Week 5 – The final exam and my first MOOC is finished!


Screen shot of my progress

Week 5 doesn’t contain any new content but does contain the final exam. This comprised 20 multiple choice questions – I didn’t find them easy and got the first two wrong (you get this feedback straight away). So from there on I went back to the course materials and checked before I submitted – I still got a further couple wrong but this was a far more successful method and did mean that I reviewed much of the course content. This was were the PDF transcripts and slides came in handy as it was much easier to review these than to watch the videos again.

Now that I’ve I’ve completed the MOOC – what value will this have to me? Should I have gone for the validated option? Does it have any transfer value? Does it have educational value to me as a participant? What will I do with it? Tweet about it, add it to my LinkedIn profile. I’ve not made any personal contacts though this course though I’m sure this could be possible depending on the subject and the set up. In these discussion forums I can’t see any way to directly message other participants? Though I noticed some participants included an email address in their introduction on the world map.

Also, I thought there was some kind of completion certificate? I didn’t pay for the validated version but in the forums someone has asked about  ‘Honor Code Certificate’ and the response was “for this course EdX will still provide an Honor Code Certificate (free) as well as the Verified Certificate to all those who pass the course”. Pickard (2014) has an interesting overview of the certificate offerings of the major MOOC providers and comes down on the side of not bothering with validation – arguments from the article and comments in favour of validation include, providing student motivation to complete and encouraging payment to support the MOOC providers. Doey (nd) is strongly in favour of validated certificates as he perceives them to be fairer to the institutions and other candidates, but gives the caveat that is only if you can afford them. I was surprised to read in the Harvard Gazette (2015) which summarises a large scale study of activity in edX that paying for a certificate did make a very big difference to completion rates:

Across 12 courses, participants who paid for “ID-verified” certificates (with costs ranging from $50 to $250) earned certifications at a higher rate than other participants: 59 percent, on average, compared to 5 percent. Students opting for the ID-verified track appear to have stronger intentions to complete courses, and the monetary stake may add an extra form of motivation.

This seems odd to me as you are getting the exact same learning experience in the free and the validated versions, so the act of paying seems to make a  big difference to motivation.

Update – towards the end of the last week I had an email with details of the certificates:

Progress and certificates
For those of you who are interested, there is still the possibility of signing up for a Verified Certificate on EdX before 21 April 2016, 23.59 UTC, (extended deadline) two working days before the course itself ends on 25 April 2016 00:00 UTC (extended deadline). More importantly, for those of you who have worked hard and have satisfactorily completed your assignments, you can expect your certificate on or just after 27 April 2016. To see if you qualify for a certificate, you can click on the progress tab in the top menu of EdX. Certificates will be provided to those of you who have earned a score of 60% for the course

The email is still pushing the Verified Certificate very hard. I’m more tempted at this point because I know I’ve done the work and completed the course! Still I look forward to my free certificate after the 27th (which will be after I submit this DEGC assignment). EdX (nd) are very clear that the fees are just to cover costs:

As a not-for-profit, edX uses your contribution to support our mission to provide quality education to everyone around the world, and to improve learning through research. While we have established a minimum fee, many learners contribute more than the minimum to help support our mission

Now I feel a bit guilty for not paying! Maybe next time….Though maybe next time I won’t have a choice as a recent EdX news article from Dec 2015 say’s they are phasing out ‘honour code certificates’ – i.e. the free ones.

EdX (nd) Verified Certificates https://www.edx.org/verified-certificate (accessed 15/04/16)

Doey, E. (nd)  Is getting a verified certificate from edx MITx worth the money? Do I really need a verified one? Quora https://www.quora.com/Is-getting-a-verified-certificate-from-edx-MITx-worth-the-money-Do-I-really-need-a-verified-one (Accessed 11/04/16)

Harvard Gazette (2015) Massive study on MOOCs
http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/04/massive-study-on-moocs/ (accessed 13/04/16)

Pickard, L. (2014) Should you pay for a verified statement of accomplishment?https://www.nopaymba.com/pay-verified-statement-accomplishment/ (accessed 11/04/16)


Where in the world?

One of the most interesting aspects of taking part in a MOOC is the global dimension. The course participants can be based, in theory at least, anywhere in the world. As a student I have the option to select MOOC courses from institutions all over the world (not that every University in the world offers MOOCs – I wonder what proportion of them do?) – I could challenge myself to study a MOOC from an institution based on every continent!

EdX partners are listed from US, Australia, France, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Hong Kong, India, Sweden, Japan, Belgium, China, Germany, Scotland and Hong Kong and this is just one of many MOOC providers.

The MOOC I’m taking includes a world map which was used for an Introductory activity in Week one, and later on for Assignment 1. I’ve taken a screen shot of the ‘Introduce Yourself’ map here: There are 358 pins on it (so a small subset of the 3500 registered for the MOOC) but it still shows an interesting global spread. The map combines people under the nearest pin – so I’m part of the 72 people on Europe – but when I zoom in I can see I’m the only participant from my city. This is the reverse of most of my previous learning experiences where most other participants were in the same city or the same country. IntoMap



Week 4 – Exploring the *Master Track*

Because I’ve finished this weeks activities quickly and because there was no recommended paper this week, I’ve gone back to look at the additional reading for earlier weeks of the course.

Weeks 1, 2 and 3 had a mandatory paper (which I read) and also optional papers under the slightly off putting name of *Master Track* – which I have so far ignored! There were one or two under this heading and also an additional paper each of the first 3 weeks under a ‘tips’ section. The paper are mainly authored or co-authored by the staff teaching on the MOOC – e.g. Marijn Janssen, Anneke Zuiderwijk. I was thinking the MOOC wasn’t that academic, but now I realise that there are seven additional recommended papers that could be read, plus there are also references at the end of each presentation that I could follow up.

In Week 1 the Mandatory paper was McDermott (2010), but the paper itself is not freely available, there was a special arrangement in place for the course:

“Note that Elsevier made it possible to download this article for free. This article will be downloadable for free only until March 21. Thereafter you will need a subscription to the journal Government Information Quarterly to be able to download the articles”

When I went back to look at the additional papers I found that several were only ‘open’ within a time window, which had now closed. This was okay for me as I was able to login with my student credentials and access the papers, but would not have been very helpful for participants not in this privileged position.

So have I got so distracted by completing the tasks for this MOOC that I’ve forgotten the larger goal of learning about Open Government and how this relates to Digital Citizenship? Hopefully these additional articles will give me more resources to make these connections.

The term *Master Track* also makes me wonder what level this MOOC is aimed at? It’s not that clear. In the feedback video from Assignment 2, discussing the survey results,  it said “Most participants have a Master’s degree, namely 43%, and most of the participants received their highest degree in the field of professional, scientific or technical services.”

It feels about Masters level to me, but perhaps it’s bit more taught than I’m used too? I find it hard to judge? I can’t see any indications on edX of the suggested ‘level’of the course – e.g. Year of Undergraduate programme or Postgraduate. 

The most relevant information I could find on this related whether the eDX courses can be used to receive ‘college credit’ and in apart from a few particular instances the answer is ‘no’ this must be negotiated directly with the college you are applying too. So perhaps for this reason the level is not defined because it’s not being accredited at a particular level?

McDermott, P. (2010). Building open government. Government Information Quarterly. 27(4): pp. 401-413

Seeking out the marks…

Image by thebarrowboy CC BY 2.0

I’m surprised at how driven I’ve been throughout this course to complete the activities that give me marks. I like going to view all the stats on the progress page. In my Digital Educational courses I’m more participatory and enjoy taking part in the discussions. There are discussions as part of this MOOC but they are not very active, I’ve read them and added the odd comment. It was a required part of the first weeks activity (I also commented on the cases I voted on) but I’ve not got much of a ‘feel’ for the other people on the MOOC – I’m getting a wee bit of an idea from the course team as I see them respond to questions, so you get to ‘hear their voices’ more often. I’m not sure if it’s because it is such a short course – just five weeks rather than the much longer commitment I have to the DE programme. Or if it’s the way the assessment tasks are designed, i.e. what they reward – that is bringing out this behaviour?

de Freitas, S., Morgan, J. and Gibson, D. (2015) talk about the use of “gamified” content and suggests this has”indicated more success in efficacy of achieved learning outcomes than traditional methods…”. I wonder if my desire to complete the quizzes and build up the progress chart can be considered gamification of the course? I’m not sure whether this approach improved my learning, though I do feel it altered my style of approaching the course.

I’m starting to try to draw out what I’ve actually learned by participating in the MOOC course, and to draw this out from the experience of taking part in the MOOC? I want to piece this back together with my DEGC coursework and explore how the two fit. 

de Freitas, S., Morgan, J. and Gibson, D. (2015) Will MOOCs transform learning and teaching in higher education? Engagement and course retention in online learning provision. British Journal of Educational Technology. 46(3): pp. 455-471

Week 3 – Peer review activity

After completing my own submission I was taken to peer review someone else’s. It was quite interesting to do this straight after completing my own, I was still very much in the zone! Seeing one of their answers helped clarify part of mine that I’d had trouble with, but I could see bits I’d answered that they had missed. I wrote what I hoped would be useful feedback. The feedback form was well constructed and made the criteria pretty clear – I felt bad giving reduced mark’s though – I’m a generous marker!

Screen shot showing the Assignment in progress screen
Peer review – awaiting peers…..

I could only do one peer review as there were no more submissions, so there can’t be two yet in my category.  I can’t really be bothered waiting as I was just hoping to get this done today!

Still the assignment and activity did help me engage a bit more with the course content, I went back and reviewed content from a couple of earlier weeks in order to answer it as best I could.


Where am I studying?

Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) building at the DelftTU campus (from http://www.tudelft.nl/en/about-tu-delft/faculties/)

After watching the feedback Video on Assignment 1  I wanted to know more about the institution I’m studying ‘at’. I visit the website for the Delft University of Technology. There is a very nice promotional video in English – is all the teaching in English at this University?  I found English listed as the teaching language on one of the online course, but I’m not sure if that’s the case for on campus? I checked and most are taught in Dutch but a few are taught in English – I also notice that I’ve been directed to the English version of the website.  There was some interesting discussions in our DEGC blog about English Language and whether this had become a ‘de facto’ standard on global education? this discussion linked to Pickles (2016) article which says:

According to the German linguist Ranier Enrique Hamel, in 1880 there were 36% of scientific publications using English, which had risen to 64% by 1980.

But this trend has been further accentuated, so that by 2000, among journals recognised by Journal Citation Reports, 96% were in English.

I want to see what the campus looks like and I find a page about the various campus buildings. I decide that this course probably sites within the Faculty Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science – so that would be the building I’m ‘studying’ in if I were on campus. I wonder if the videos are filmed here?

It looks DelftTU are offering free MOOCs partly to promote their full online courses. They have a website showcasing Online Learning Options. I discover at the end of the course that they are offering a paid for follow up course to the Open Government MOOC, which looks into the subject in more depth.

Are you interested in a follow up course? > Professional Education in Data Governance
From October 2016, TUDelft will be hosting a 5 week professional education course on Open Data Governance and Use for professionals, administrators, policy advisors, developers and government officials.

Pickles, M. (2016) Could the dominance of English harm global scholarship? BBC NEWS Retrieved 11th March 2016 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35282235


I’m thinking about why universities want to run MOOCS?

Image: DelftX: OG10x Open Government  Delft University of Technology  CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Hosting a MOOC is a great way to get people interested a subject to view it from your point of view and to get them to read your research in this area – if you are being cynical could it be considered a tool for promoting a particular set of ideas (even indoctrination?). This course on Open Government has a political agenda as it is encouraging ‘open government’ through ‘open data’ with a more democratic process as a goal. In Janssen, M. Charalabidis, Y. & Zuiderwijk A. (2012) (the second mandatory reading) they say:

“Instead of reinforcing current processes, open data should result in open government in which the government acts as an open system and interacts with its environment”

Two of the authors of this paper teach on the MOOC –  so  it’s also promoting the research of the staff who are teaching on it and research projects they have been involved in (e.g. http://www.engagedata.eu/). It will be raising awareness of the projects and getting more people to read the work and in time may lead to more citations. It may enhance their reputation beyond their own institution. It may raise the profile of the institution that hosts the MOOC perhaps bringing them to the awareness of a new audience. 

ed/DelftTU are also getting interesting data from the participants which also be used to create a large data set of ‘citizen sourced’ data – for example in the week 2 activity where you submit your case study into a collection via a survey form.

de Freitas, Morgan & Gibson. (2015) link MOOCs to the global economic downturn and the related need lifelong learning. They also talk about the timely convergence of technologies that has led to MOOCs  “…online learning opening up ready access to digital media rich content and more recently mobile learning allowing us to change where we learn – anytime and anywhere”.

Salmon et al (2015) suggest the potential of MOOCs for staff development:

“…that MOOC’s provide an easily scalable and effective means of exposing university academics and professional staff to the experience of learning online, to research, collaborate and potentially to change practice on a wide scale”

They suggest that this may be where MOOCs prove a ‘game changer’ in education.

Ng’ambi, D. & Bozalek, V. (2015) say that while higher education institutions are facing global austerity measures and meanwhile being encouraged to increase intake, improve retention and widen participation and that they may:

“…see MOOC’s as one way of addressing these challenges: however the relationships between MOOC’s increasing and widening intake, and improvement of of throughput and graduation rates remains fuzzy”

During her Keynote presentation at the OER16 Open Culture conference, Highton, M. (2016) quotes University of Edinburgh Principle, Professor Sir Tim O’Shea’s response to the question of why does the University of Edinburgh do MOOC:

“for reputation, for fun, to try new ways of teaching, not for money”

So I am starting to see that different institutions may have a variety of reasons for starting to offer MOOCs.

de Freitas, S., Morgan, J. and Gibson, D. (2015). Will MOOCs transform learning and teaching in higher education? Engagement and course retention in online learning provision. British Journal of Educational Technology. 46(3): pp. 455-471

Highton, M. (2016) Keynote – Open with care. OER16 Open Culture April 20th 2016

Janssen, M. Charalabidis, Y. & Zuiderwijk A. (2012). Benefits, Adoption Barriers and Myths of Open Data and Open Government. Information Systems Management (ISM),29(4): pp 258-268

Ng’ambi, D. and Bozalek, V. (2015). Editorial: Massive open online courses (MOOCs): Disrupting teaching and learning practices in higher education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46(3): pp. 451-454

Salmon, G., Gregory, J. Lokuge Dona, K. and Ross B. (2015). Experiential online development for educators: The example of the Carpe Diem Mopc. British Journal of Educational Technology. 46 (3): pp. 542-556