On MOOCs – Final Class Stanford Educ217x/CompLit

Dear All,

here is our Hangout session from yesterday’s last class at Stanford in Educ217x/Comp Lit. I thought the class with Hangout went really well! And we had fun, too!

As you can tell by watching the video, the content did not suffer from the media at all, the discussion was rich and engaging, AND we now have a recording of the class for future reference or for sharing. What still needs a little more attention, in regard to sharing, is the overall quality of the recording itself, i.e. we need to make sure that the individuals speaking are positioned behind the camera to where they are more optimally captured (rule of 2/3rd’s, distance to laptop camera, framing of body and face, movement). Lighting was very good, so was sound. The feedback from the third computer in the room (Tasha’s) could be because of where the laptop itself was positioned, one would have to play with that beforehand. But all that is required, really, are relatively small adjustments and with a little mindfulness and practice such a recording can be perfected with relatively simple means.

One technical thing that I learned: once you turn the camera off, i.e. the broadcasting/recording camera, you have to restart the whole hangout session to turn it back on. That is why I missed to record Kipp’s and Tasha’s presentation. Had I left the Hangout, it would have been disruptive for the flow of the presentation because I would have had to re-invite everybody in the middle of it all. Sorry about that, Kipp and Tasha. Now we know better! Perhaps you can send me your PPT? And even worse, I missed recording the gift presentation by the students for David, Mitchell, and Candice! The creativity and thoughtfulness behind it speaks volumes, so I’ll attach the digital version to this message for everybody to see (with a special thanks to mastermind Stew!).

Connecting three inter-institutional classrooms effectively (here Duke/Stanford/UCSB), in my opinion, is also possible, but we would all need to confer and agree on the logistical and technical details beforehand. As interesting as they were overall, there was too much of a plurality of technical set-ups and digital pedagogies to give the meetings the coherence they would have benefitted from.

Still, the big question is though (given that technology does not get in the way): what can three connected classrooms accomplish that two or even one couldn’t? I have some ideas, but I would love to hear from your guys what your take is on that. I would like to “digest” your responses in my blog analysis. If you could give that question a few thoughts and mail your responses to me, I’d be very grateful. In return, I will share the pictures, recordings, ideas, comments about the class in a blog site with you as a sort of memento. Dankeschön!

It was such a pleasure thinking and playing with you all throughout the course!! Please stay in touch and as Arnold would say in impeccable English “I’ll be back!” 🙂


I’ll also attach the doc on MOOCs we were discussing here, since not everybody may have access to it.

Comp Lit 265: Histories and Futures of Humanistic Education: Culture and Crisis, Books and MOOCs, Stanford University, Winter Quarter 2014.

Collection of MOOC Resources

This document is a product of students in “Histories and Futures of Humanistic Education,” a course which asks students to develop a historical and cultural contextual understanding of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). In the first section, you will find a hearty compilation of contemporary news articles aimed to provide the reader with an introductory knowledge base about MOOCs. The second section poses a series of questions students in the classroom found especially interesting after three weeks of classroom discussions and readings about the history of US higher education. In an attempt to begin to answer some of the questions posed in section two, the final portion of the document is a compilation of relevant reads and videos,  which respectively fall under the broad headings of “Education and Innovation” and “Relationships/Interaction/Pedagogy.”

Compiled by:

Gabriele Dillmann (Gabriele Dillmann, Julian H. Robertson Jr. Professor, Modern Languages/German, Denison University, Granville, OH. Student in course.)

Kipp Johnson (Joint degree student MBA/MA Education @ Stanford, expected graduation 2015)

Natasha Patel (Pursuing a B.A. of Philosophy at Stanford University, expected graduation 2016)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction to MOOCs: selected background information to get you started

2. Some (early) Example MOOCs

3. Critical Thinking Questions: concepts we find particularly interesting about MOOCs

4. Education and Innovation/Social issues

5. Relationships/Interaction/Pedagogy

1. Introduction to MOOCs


A short video about MOOCs and the connected age.

7 Things You Should Know About MOOCs II (2013):http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/7-things-you-should-know-about-moocs-ii

·      [B]ecause of the scale of most MOOCs, vast amounts of data are being generated that, when analyzed and more fully understood, will benefit not only future MOOCs but also education in other delivery models.

·      Recently instructors at several institutions expressed reservations about MOOCs, criticizing them for providing a mass-market education and devaluing direct faculty-student interaction.

·      Although MOOCs might be designed around content mastery rather than course completion, some find the completion rates—often less than 10%—troubling.

·      [P]articipants enroll in MOOCs for a wide range of reasons, from curiosity about a topic to preparation for credit by examination, and, as a result, the value of peer work such as forums and discussion might be uneven.

·      Perhaps the MOOC’s most important contribution to date has been to raise important questions and spark essential conversations about curriculum design, accreditation, what constitutes a valid learning experience, and who has access to higher education.

The MOOC Guide by Educause:


The purpose of this document is two-fold:

– to offer an online history of the development of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

– to use that history to describe major elements of a MOOC

Each chapter of this guide looks at one of the first MOOCs and some early influences. It contains these parts:

– a description of the MOOC, what it did, and what was learned

– a description of the element of MOOC theory learned in the offering of the course

– practical tools that can be used to develop that aspect of a MOOC

– practical tips on how to be successful

What is a MOOC – by Dave Cormier


NY Times = The Year of the MOOC


Chronicle of Higher Ed


Excellent resource: chronology of MOOCS with major milestones and respective articles – up to August 2013

Bill Gates on MOOCS



Published on Mar 19, 2013

Inside Higher Ed’s Doug Lederman moderates a panel on MOOCs at ACE’s 95th Annual Meeting, March 5, 2013, in Washington, DC. Participants included Peter Lange, provost at Duke University; Anant Agarwal, president of EdX; Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera; and Kevin P. Reilly, president of the University of Wisconsin System.


How Free Online Courses Are Changing Traditional Education

PBS Published on Jan 8, 2013

As tuition costs continue to rise, it seems counterintuitive that professors at top universities would give away their courses for free. But that’s exactly what they’re doing, on web-based platforms known as “Massive Open Online Courses.” Spencer Michels reports on how a boom in online learning could change higher education.


CNI: Massive Open Online Courses as Drivers for Change

Published Dec 19, 2012 Lynne O’Brien, Director, Academic Technology & Instructional Services, DukeU

Innovation Imperative: Change Everything

A NYT article from Clayton Christensen (Harvard Business School legend) talking about how “disruptive innovation” may impact higher ed.  References several MOOCs, the Minerva Project, and also talks about the University of Phoenix.

MOOC Journal:


MOOCs Forum is the only international publication dedicated exclusively to shaping the future development, design, and deployment of massive, open, online courses (MOOCs). Multidisciplinary in scope, this authoritative Forum evaluates the components and modules that are critical in creating a global education system and sustainable revenue models for MOOCs, as well as enforcing the integrity behind the creation and use of these systems.

The impetus to move our educational system forward is ongoing, yet considerations relevant to the success of MOOCs have not been fully addressed. MOOCs Forum is the catalyst for meaningful discussion and debate on the impact of these disruptive educational models.

New book on MOOCs:

Invasion of the MOOCs: The Promise and Perils of Massive Open Online Courses edited by Steven Krause and Charles Lowe


Free download of entire book!!

2. Earlier MOOC Examples

– The original course that started Udacity: An example of one of the first MOOC classes to gain traction.

– One of the first Coursera MOOCs: Another example of one an early MOOC.  This is the updated version, we are trying to get footage from the original so you can see the improvements made over the last two years.

– Using a social gaming platform:  A blog post from Coursera advertising the use of “social gaming” to improve student engagement.  The course uses online multiplayer games to give students opportunities to practice the concepts taught in the course (and win points by beating each other in quizzes).

3. Critical Thinking Questions


•       What to do with the data?  Can MOOCs help provide the metrics or measurable impact needed to convince the business world of the value of a liberal arts education?

•       How will MOOCs affect “brand” in Education?  E.g., does the benefit of visibility outweigh the potential “brand dilution” factor for universities?

•       How can collaboration through MOOCs actually enhance outcomes?  E.g., can “crowd sourcing” ideas from a wide audience yield better (or just different) insights from having a single professor teaching?

•       Superstars or communities? Should MOOCs be highlighting a single “superstar” professor to disseminate “the best” point of view, or should MOOCs focus on establishing dynamic communities (e.g., link classes between universities instead of exclusive).

Similar to the previous point, can MOOCs have a “knowledge creation” role in addition to the “knowledge dissemination”?  And along with that, is it important to pair research and teaching the way they have traditionally been linked in universities?


I am particularly interested in how MOOCs can (can they?) foster relationships holistically or at all?

Learning styles vary significantly. What kind of learning styles does mooc-learning neglect? Promote?

What subjects/ideas/material/behavior/social skills can and cannot be taught via/in MOOCs?

What sort of learning do MOOCs promote especially well and what sorts less so?


1. Some say online education has resulted in a significant change in the style of teaching; for example, “teaching has become a team sport.” In what ways do/will data and metrics retrieved from MOOC instruction influence teaching pedagogy in higher education?

2. MOOCs possess a low barrier to entry because they are both easily accessible (given a person has access to a computer) and low-cost. What steps need to be taken in order to ensure MOOCs do not become another tool of elites (those furthering their education, professional schools)? What needs to happen to make MOOCs the savior of the common man?

3. MOOCs give us hope for a future where all individuals are able to access higher education regardless by lowering barriers of cost and accessibility. Yet, what implications will this have for class divisions? WIll it pronounce a separation between the kind and quality of education elites receive versus middle and lower class persons?

4. The internet and social media tools changed the game of journalism by allowing anyone, anywhere to “publish” pieces, information, and opinion online without critical review. Will this also be the future of higher education? Do MOOCs present a challenge for maintaining the role universities play in determining what knowledge is worthy of credential? How can we overcome this and maintain the credibility of knowledge disseminated online?
4. Education and Innovation/Social Issues


For whom are we reinventing college?


limited public awareness of MOOCS


California puts MOOC Bill on Ice,  August 1, 2013

Faculty unions strongly opposed it, and later drafts of the bill would give faculty-governance bodies more oversight of what outside courses could count for credit.

Interesting contribution by Joanna Huang from Educ217X

Can we find a way to incorporate art/creative work into online learning/MOOCs that is engaging and culturally responsive/sensitive?

MOOC Fans Step out of the Shadows

Surprising data from first wave of massive open online courses show most students are male, educated, and living in a developed country.


— and pairing it with this NPR Talk —

Community Colleges Missing the Mark for Men of Color

Community college is seen as a good option for students who can’t afford four-year colleges. But a recent report finds community colleges aren’t effectively serving male students of color.


5. Relationships/Interaction/Pedagogy


Amin Saberi, a Stanford professor and the start-up company’s founder and chief executive, said there’s a key difference between NovoEd and existing MOOC options: peer interaction.

http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/retention-and-intention-massive-open-online-courses-depth-0Retention and Intention in Massive Open Online Courses: In DepthEDUCAUSE Review, June 2013. This article argues that retention in MOOCs should be considered carefully in the context of learner intent, especially given the varied backgrounds and motivations of students who choose to enroll.


The Pedagogical Foundations of MOOCs, article by Glance, Forsey, Riley.

..Although not specifically designed to optimise learning, claims have been made that MOOCs are based on sound pedagogical foundations that are at the very least comparable with courses offered by universities in face–to–face mode. To validate this, we examined the literature for empirical evidence substantiating such claims. Although empirical evidence directly related to MOOCs was difficult to find, the evidence suggests that there is no reason to believe that MOOCs are any less effective a learning experience than their face–to–face counterparts. Indeed, in some aspects, they may actually improve learning outcomes.


Freshman Writing MOOC (17K students), pros and cons; here cons:  (june, 2013)

Key comments:

·      While our instructional team wanted to help them complete this work off-line—many students have very limited Internet access—we could not provide a way to do so. We pressed Coursera support-staff members for a solution, but they could not provide one.

·      My limited ability to make key pedagogical choices is the most frustrating aspect of teaching a MOOC. Because of the way the Coursera platform is constructed, such wide-ranging decisions have been hard-coded into the softwaredecisions that seem to have no educational rationale and that thwart the intent of our course.

·       And, of course, there is the question of how to evaluate the writing of thousands of students. The only way to accomplish that is to rely entirely on peer review and peer -assessment. But first, as part of a required training module, students must read sample essays that are scored, and test themselves against those scores.

·       “Because of the way the Coursera platform is constructed, such wide-ranging decisions have been hard-coded into the software—decisions that seem to have no educational rationale and that thwart the intent of our course.”  And if someone working closely with Coursera can’t get an answer as to why and how those decisions were made, you can just imagine the level of customer support and responsiveness would be offered to the rest of us.

Self-Driven Mastery in Massive Open Online Courses

Chuong B. Do, Zhenghao Chen, Relly Brandman, Daphne Koller

MOOCs FORUM. September 2013, 1(P): 14-16.


Udacity Founder Sebastian Thrun (Jan. 2012)


and then Jan 1, 2014.


Thrun: “…we have a lousy product.”


On Petra Dierkes-Thrun’s blog: Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in a Digital Age


Everything in Moderation/Behavior – January 23, 2014

The Pedagogy of MOOCs


Good blog with interesting information on the early digital tech pedagogy.

How do Learners Advocate for Themselves in a Class of 16K?


“All of this stems from my own experience this week in the greater than tweet-length “The History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education: Or, How We Can Unlearn Our Old Patterns and Relearn for a Happier, More Productive, Ethical, and Socially-Engaged Future” (hereto after fantastically abbreviated as #FutureEd) being led by Cathy Davidson.”

University of Pennsylvania professor Al Filreis leads a conversation at Columbia on “Open Access Humanities, Open Pedagogy: Exploring the Communitarian Possibilities of MOOCs”!


MOOCs in the liberal arts conversation at Westmont College


MOOCing the Liberal Arts? Technology and Relationship in Liberal Arts Education

The Thirteenth Annual Conversation on the Liberal Arts

February 13 – 15, 2014, Santa Barbara



“The Open Letter to Michael Sandel and Thoughts about Online Teaching”

Peter Hadreas, Philosophy Department, San José State University, Philosophy Department


May 2, 2013: ‘An Open Letter to Professor Michael Sandel From the Philosophy Department at San Jose State U.’ Professors in the philosophy department at San Jose State University wrote this letter to make a direct appeal to Michael Sandel, a Harvard professor whose MOOC on “Justice” they were being encouraged to use as part of the San Jose State curriculum.

Related Article:


The authors say they fear “that two classes of universities will be created: one, well-funded colleges and universities in which privileged students get their own real professor; the other, financially stressed private and public universities in which students watch a bunch of videotaped lectures and interact, if indeed any interaction is available on their home campuses, with a professor that this model of education has turned into a glorified teaching assistant.”

Includes a very interesting discussion by MOOC advocates.

Response from Professor Sandler:


“MOOCs, the Morning After”

Alexandra Juhasz, Pitzer College and Elizabeth Losh, UC San Diego.

Alexandra Juhasz and Elizabeth Losh are leading thinkers in gender and technology and developers of an alternative model to MOOCs, the Distributed Open Collaborative Course (DOCC).

– intentionally building feminist notions into digital learning.

DOCC 2013 Facultyhave developed an open-ended structure for Teaching & Learning Resources that reflects some of our shared pedagogical philosophies and priorities—including anti-racist, anti-colonial, trans*, queer and crip feminist content and teaching methods.”


Also of interest:





Alexandra (Juhasz, https://www.pitzer.edu/academics/faculty/juhasz/)  — thanks for the excellent summary on the Westmont conversation!!

http://www.westmont.edu/institute/conversations/2014_program/documents/GaedeMOOCS-MarkMcIntire.pdf Paper: “Plato’s Massive Open Online Cave?” by Mark McIntire, Santa Barbara City College, Philosophy Department

“‘Learning-how –to-learn is generally regarded as the great advantage of a liberal arts education … the crucial challenge that MOOCs face: are they teaching their students to learn how to learn? If not, then they are not liberal arts courses however massive their enrollment, their lack of cost or the ease of internet access.”

“Research of this paper failed to turn up the inductive evidence that MOOCs provide verifiable evidence that they teach students how to learn on their own. All the evidence points to the missing ‘human presence’ element for this failure, generally. However, all is not lost. There are emerging MOOC models that promise to restore the vibrancy of self-learning tools as the core of all curricula.”


“To MOOC or not to MOOC the Liberal Arts? Why Not Consult the Evidence?” by Alexander W. Astin, University of California, Los Angeles


And just for fun: The Fear Factor in Digital Technology


And just a little more fun: :)) !!!

From Cogdog’s Blog


If MOOCs invade, they eventually go away.

“Which brings me to an email from Cathy Davidson, the Future of Educationblah blah blah mumbo jumbo chilly whack long wordy title full of colons, commas, and semi colons… ‘is now over’. Again, I started a MOOC 6 weeks ago, and managed to make it through a week. That is my problem, my fault, not theirs. .. And Cathy’s message does offer the invitation and ways one can continue on, mainly by becoming a member/needle of HASTAC. But the MOOC is over. Period.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLAr-WlxMZY  (The Doors “When the Music’s over”)

But you know, the MOOC is Over. The MOOC is Over.

When The MOOC Is Over

by Cathy Morrison

When the MOOC’s over

When the MOOC’s over, yeah

When the MOOC’s over

Turn off the site

Turn off the site

Turn off the site, yeah

When the MOOC’s over

When the MOOC’s over

When the MOOC’s over

Turn off the site

Turn off the site

Turn off the site

For the MOOC is your special friend

Dance on fire as it intends

MOOC is your only friend

Until the end

Until the end

Until the end

Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection

Send my credentials to the House of Detention

I got facebook friends inside

The face in the mirror won’t stop

The girl in the window won’t drop

A feast of friends

“Revolution!” she cried

Waitin’ for me


Before I sink

Into the big sleep

I want to hear

I want to hear

The scream of the butterfly

Come back, baby

Back into my course

We’re gettin’ tired of hangin’ around

Waitin’ around with our heads to the ground

I hear a very gentle tweet

Very near yet very far

Very soft, yeah, very clear

Come today, come today

What have they done to education?

What have they done to our fair sister?

Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her

Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn

And tied her with fences and dragged her down

I hear a very gentle sound

With your ear down to the ground

We want the world and we want it…

We want the world and we want it…




ds106 night, babe

See the light, babe

Save us!

Jim Groom!

Save us!

So when the MOOC’s over

When the MOOC’s over, yeah

When the MOOC’s over

Turn off the site

Turn off the site

Turn off the site

Well the MOOC is your special friend

Dance on fire as it intends

MOOC is your only friend

Until the end

Until the end

Until the end!

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