Harvard gathering to review how online learning has worked best, and how to improve it
By Clea Simon
MOOCs (massive open online courses) have sparked explosive growth in both education and opportunity. Consider edX. Since this joint Harvard and MIT online platform launched in 2012, it has attracted more than 27 million course enrollments representing more than 8 million learners, uniting students all over the world with teachers and course material through lectures, interactive forums, problem sets, videos, and more.
What many of those students may not realize is that the learning goes both ways. Each time a student clicks a link or logs into an online conversation, he or she leaves a digital trail. And that information is vital to expanding and improving the future of learning.
“There’s a tremendous demand for learning from people around the world,” said Peter K. Bol, vice provost for advances in learning (VPAL) and the Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations. He pointed out that 70 percent of edX registrants already have bachelors’ degrees. “They’re doing this because they want to learn,” he said. “And with large amounts of data available, we can actually figure out what works and what doesn’t work.”
The proper, careful, and organized use of that information will be the topic of an expansive workshop and conference on Friday. This first Harvard-MIT data workflow event for edX institutions will introduce participating institutions to the edX infrastructure and allow attendees to share their perspectives on the need for analytics and reporting at their home institutions. Among other schools, Arizona State University, Boston University, Colgate University, Hamilton College, Rice University, Wellesley College, and Microsoft Corp. have made plans to attend.
The focus of the daylong event, said Dustin Tingley, faculty director of VPAL and professor of government, will be on “learning from the students how they’re using the platform, and learning how we can design a better educational experience for those students.”
[ Full article available at Harvard Gazette: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/07/moocs-ahead/ ]