Social media and jobs

Lucy Kellaway from the FT

Also view here.

And Guardian article (Lindsey Stone)


Design of a MOOC (Post 3)

Timothy Read, (twitter) Chapter 6 The Architectonics of Language MOOCs

Book available here:

This chapter looks at the design of a MOOC. Some useful defintions are provided:

cMOOCs: explore pedagogies and emphasise connectedness, collaborative learning; do not run on a single platform (but are distributed across many).promote immersion and are more disruptive than xMOOCs. They are not designed to serve the mission of a given institution.Key activities in cMOOCs include the remixing, repurposing and co-creation of content and interaction.
xMOOCs: extend standard classroom inspired institutional educational models; promote participant diversity, in the sense of transmitting the same message to thousands, whereas cMOOCs focus more on the diversity of approaches and resources, developed and distributed in many different ways.
LMOOCs: Language MOOCs

And this quote about teaching and learning languages:

When considering LMOOCs, learning a language requires the development of competences related to four different kinds of language activities (Council of Europe, 2001): reception (listening and reading), production (spoken and written), interaction (spoken and written), and mediation (translating and interpreting).

So, how to put all that together, in our Language MOOC? This is how Read concludes:

A middle ground is required that enables a hybrid-xMOOC to be designed, including cMOOC features, such as external social media tools, and the like, going beyond the limitations of the basic tools provided in the platform to provide a finer grained level of interaction. This is not just a question of linking in Twitter and/or Facebook to an existent LMOOC, and including some activities that makes use of them, but more of a fundamental restructuring of the course to move the emphasis of study away from working in the platform by watching a series of video recordings, undertaking superficial activities and doing automatically corrected tests, toward a semi-distributed cMOOC-like structure, where the students undertake a lot of their own content curation and productive skill development off the platform, and then come back to share with the group what has been happening and prepare for the next step in the learning process.

Gives me food for thought.

Role of instructor on a MOOC (Post 2)

From Maria Dolores Castrillo de Larreta-Azelain, “Chapter 5. Language Teaching in MOOCs: the Integral Role of the Instructor”. This chapter is also worth reading. Lots of very good advice.

Book available here:

I like this in the introduction:

MOOCs appeared quite disruptively in 2011 as a new model of online education evolving naturally from the learning based on the social network.

And then some agreement about what is in a MOOC:

These courses consist of brief bites of videotaped content, automated correction assessment and feedback questionnaires, peer assessment tasks, and tools for communication and collaborative work, such as discussion forums, blogs and wikis

But what does the Instructor do? I remember doing e-moderation courses where we went through Salmon’s Five Step Model (2003) – and I agree that makes sense in those types of courses. But does that work on a MOOC? I agree with Castrillo that a new model is required.

Teacher roles in a MOOC

So, the instructor has a much bigger role to play before the MOOC starts, and perhaps a smaller one during the running of the course?

Castrillo defines four ‘steps’ in the planning part of a MOOC:

1. Divide your course in meaningful units or modules, 1- or 2-week long. According to recent research, the optimal length of MOOCs lies between 6 and 12 weeks. Longer courses have lower engagement and completion rates.
2. Estimate the hours of study for each unit or module. It is preferable to overestimate the number of hours to avoid the feeling of frustration which an underestimate may cause to the student. The average of weekly hours of study in MOOCs lies between 4 and 8.
3. Set a mastery standard for each unit and, depending on that, discriminate among compulsory and optional learning targets by assigning explicitly distinct tasks. The student must be aware at all times of the compulsory or optional nature of each of the tasks.
4. Include a proposed timeline with the sequencing of contents. Past experience seems to advise making the different units or modules incrementally available, and keeping them open and accessible up to the end of the course. In this way, learning along the suggested scheduling is facilitated (‘guide on the side’) while flexibility is reinforced by allowing the student to enrol at a later time, to review
the contents, to delve into previous units, etc.

Our MOOC will be split into two, each of 4 weeks, so in total within the optimal length outlined above. Over-estimating the amount of hours needed (to avoid frustrating the student) is a good point. Also, having compulsory and optional activities is a good idea. And, allowing students to go back to earlier units also makes sense.

Re the short videos, I like this sentence:

The short videos resemble individualized tuition and allow students to control the delivery speed by stopping at certain passages, replaying others and reviewing contents.

And there needs to be:

a set of several questions and issues to be tackled by the student before, during and after
viewing the instructional videos.

Importance of both self and peer assessment.

Regarding peer assessment,

Some recent research suggests that the results of task revision by four peers would be just as appropriate as those provided by the revision conducted by a single instructor (Patchan, Charney, & Schunn, 2009 (pdf)).

Other points mentioned in the chapter – read it for more information – include:

Asynchronous and synchronous communication  tools. Be care about the design  – see How NOT to Design a MOOC: The Disaster at Coursera and How to Fix it, 2013.

Chaos in the forums – I am still unsure how to prevent this.

New professional roles within MOOCs: curator and facilitator.

Language MOOCs. Providing Learning, Transcending Boundaries (Post 1)

Martín-Monje, Elena and Elena Bárcena (Eds.). 2015. Language MOOCs. Providing Learning, Transcending Boundaries. Berlin: De Gruyter Open.

Book available here:

Chapter 2 What Constitutes an Effective Language MOOC? by Maggie Sokolik

Maggie Sokolik, who has already had one successful MOOC (Principles of Written English on edX), has an early chapter in this online book. She is definitely worth paying attention to, and her concluding remarks in Chapter 2 are copied below:

Tips for a Successful LMOOC
To summarize the points made in this chapter, instructors and designers who are developing LMOOCs should consider the following suggestions:
1. Maximize engagement and interaction
Consider the ways in which students can participate on the MOOC platform. Students will be more engaged in using language if they can communicate among themselves. The focus of learning should be in interaction, and not just in absorbing course materials.
2. Facilitate, but do not manage, self-organized learning
Suggest ways that students might self-organize through social media or face-to face meetings when possible, but do not manage these groups. Students will, in fact, most likely organize these groups without instructor participation at all.
3. Create an instructor presence
Students need to know that there is a human instructor participating in the
LMOOC. Take time to comment on student discussions in the MOOC, make regular announcements, create a Facebook page or Twitter feed to support the class, etc.
4. Use video for engagement
Think about video as a source of authentic language materials, not just as a way to deliver a lecture. Use video as an opportunity for students to become engaged in culture as well as the language itself.
5. Define success
As you develop a Language MOOC, think about what success will mean in the course. Encourage students to think of their own goals, and how they will use the course to achieve them.
6. Match the goals of assessment with its form
As you think about the goals of the course, consider what type of assessment matches those goals. If the course focus is on writing, for example, then assessment types should evaluate writing in a meaningful way, such as through peer and self-assessment, rather than through multiple-choice questions.

All are very good advice, and something we need to try to incorporate in our MOOC.