By Carl Straumsheim
Third time isn’t necessarily the charm for massive open online course instructors, but through a process of trial and error, some faculty members at Stanford University say their MOOCs are living up to (some of) the potential promised two years ago.
As many instructors are finding out, teaching a MOOC is not that different from teaching a face-to-face course — at least the kind where you stand in front of a large auditorium, said Scott Klemmer, associate professor of cognitive science and computer science and engineering at the University of California at San Diego. And since MOOCs have for more than a year commanded such a large part of the conversation about online education in general, instructors can more easily see what other instructors are experimenting with, he said.
“As we run these classes multiple times, a major question is: What is the role of the instructor?” said Klemmer, who is also a visiting associate professor of computer science at Stanford. “When you run it for the 10th time, how do you have it so you can be involved in the class at the level you want without you feeling like ‘Groundhog Day,’ where you’re doing the same thing over and over again?”
Keith Devlin, a Stanford researcher who is spending a semester as a visiting professor of mathematics at Princeton University, recently launched the fourth iteration of his Introduction to Mathematical Thinking MOOC. He said the number of students who persist through the first and second weeks has grown with every new version of the course. He declined to provide any numbers, since enrollment varies between the fall and spring semesters, but said the results mean he has finally reached a point where he has moved from “crude-tuning to fine-tuning.”
[ Full article available at Inside Higher Ed: Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/02/18/stanford-u-mooc-instructors-trial-and-error-breeds-success ]