By David Raths
What happens when you combine a MOOC and a flipped course? More interactivity, more consistency and some interesting avenues of student interaction, according to Bonnie Ferri, professor and associate chair for undergraduate affairs in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Ferri teaches a course called Circuits and Electronics, with 450 students per term split into several sections. A year and a half ago, she developed two MOOCs (delivered through Coursera) in conjunction with the class. “We offer the MOOC videos simultaneously to the public and on-campus students,” she explained. The on-campus students watch all the videos, then they come to class and do a variety of activities — including labs — using handheld devices such as a National Instruments myDAQ, or a Digilent Discovery Board, which has a suite of electronic instruments for performing experiments. The MOOC students can buy the same devices at student prices and do experiments on their own wherever they live.
“We have them do the same homework and we synchronize them with an online discussion platform called Piazza,” added Ferri. She and her teaching assistants go into the Piazza forum several times a day to review and endorse answers students are giving each other.
Ferri was pleasantly surprised to find that the MOOC students were helping the on-campus students. For instance, a Georgia Tech student posted a request for a brief summary of the use of oscilloscopes, and a few hours later a MOOC student posted a brilliant, precise description. “I started asking the MOOC students about themselves,” she recalled. “They are mathematicians who wanted to learn something about circuits and electronics, or they are physicists or engineers who took this material years ago and want to remind themselves about it. Many are working professionals. They can introduce comments based on experiences that our students just don’t have. One talked about how they use certain sensors in the automotive industry. I’ve had personal comments from students that this type of interaction is phenomenal.”
[ Full article available at Campus Technology: http://campustechnology.com/articles/2015/04/01/for-a-better-flip-try-moocs.aspx ]