By Karen Head
Karen Head is an assistant professor in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Literature, Media, and Communication, and director of the university’s Communication Center. She reports periodically on her group’s efforts to develop and offer a massive open online course in freshman composition.
After months of preparation, we finally started our MOOC, “First-Year Composition 2.0,” at Georgia Tech. We are now through the first few weeks of the eight-week course, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Veteran MOOC instructors warned me that the early weeks would be bumpy. The actual experience has often left me panicked—and worried that the course would not be successful. This is not like a traditional course, in which you have a day or two to deal with issues that come up in class. MOOC students expect immediate responses, and that means nearly 24/7 monitoring of the course.
I’ll begin with some of our positive experiences. One of the best decisions we made was to embed a Google Map on which we asked students to pin their locations. With more than 17,000 enrolled students, we are reaching people on every continent except Antarctica. As with all MOOCs, enrollment numbers are different from “active student” numbers. At the moment, 58 percent of our students are actively engaged. For some, this MOOC is the only way they can take such a course.
[ Full article available at The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/inside-a-mooc-in-progress/44397 ]