Monday, February 4, 2013

My Mobile Design & Programming Course Available Publicly

So Hawaiʻi Pacific University (HPU) has very kindly given me permission to take my Mobile Design and Programming class public.  The class is already under way and has 9 HPU students and 6 external students.  It's not exactly a MOOC (Massive Open Online Class), more of a SOOC (Small Open Online Class).  I'm quite happy with it that way for the moment.  I'm testing out some new features such as an assignment self-tracking system (see image below) that I developed using Google App Scripts and plugged into Google Sites, and I think it's good to start small with these things.

Also, I think the key thing about classes is being able to have meaningful interactions with the other class members, which is challenging in MOOCs.  I'm hoping that I can gradually scale this class up to more students while maintaining a tight knit feel.  In order to do that I think we have to start small and gradually work our way up, rather than starting with 40,000 students and then trying to work back from there.

Some things I am happy with are having migrated my class syllabus purely to HTML (goodbye word documents), shared all my materials under Creative Commons BY licensing and being explicit about learning objectives on a week by week basis.  I'm also continuing to enjoy having all my lecture videos on YouTube, Skype chatrooms and having all my students submit assignments on their own personal blogs. I think this last is the critical thing that may allow this more personal (POOC?) type of course to scale.

The problem with MOOCs is that they hope all the students will spend time posting internally into their forums, which creates a great cache of content inside the MOOC for the MOOC authors, but I feel the value proposition is not so good for the students.  By posting on their blogs students associate their assignments and opinions more strongly with themselves; they build up a portfolio of their work that can exist, and be discovered, outside the MOOC.  The student can still control their blog visibility, and they can always go back and revise any content they are not happy with.  Rather than a certificate at the end of the course, the students have a fully browsable blog documenting their creative process - I know which I'd prefer :-)

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