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)


Getting started – registering

The MOOC I’ve chosen to undertake, DelftX: OG101x Open Government, is on the On edX Platform. eDX was founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012 – so has a prestigious pedigree – and they work with partner institutions – this course is produced by the Delft University of Technology

Registering requires giving a name (which can’t be changed later?) I have an internal debate about whether to give my real name of not? I opt for an initial and surname so as not to give away my gender, but it’s already taken, so I end up just using my real name.

To register I also have to agree to the edX Terms of Service and Honor Code so I’ve had a quick look at them. I was interested to see what they would say about user postings:


License Grant to edX. By submitting or distributing your User Postings, you hereby grant to edX a worldwide, non-exclusive, transferable, assignable, sub licensable, fully paid-up, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to host, transfer, display, perform, reproduce, modify, distribute, re-distribute, relicense and otherwise use, make available and exploit your User Postings, in whole or in part, in any form and in any media formats and through any media channels (now known or hereafter developed).

License Grant to edX Users. By submitting or distributing your User Postings, you hereby grant to each user of the Site a non-exclusive license to access and use your User Postings in connection with their use of the Site for their own personal purposes.

So it looks like everything you contribute is licenced to edX. I wonder why they don’t just licence it into the Creative Commons?

Anderson & Simpson (2007) pick up on my concerns when they consider the”rights students have regarding privacy, informed consent and use of their work” they are concerned about the amount of data that learning management systems collect automatically and that tutors don’t need to actively request. They encourage tutors to ask for ‘informed consent’, which students will have, if they stopped to read the Terms & Conditions when they registered for edX.

The threat of “textual permanence” is also discussed by Anderson & Simpson (2007) as a new accordance of the  online medium -“to distribute easily and widely exact copies of messages” – that may be part of my concerns about whether to use my real name in this space?


I’m enrolled, but edX are very keen that I pursue a Verified Certificate for $50 – I opt to ‘Audit This Course’ which seems fundamentally the same without the certificate?

Anderson, B. and Simpson, M. (2007) ‘Ethical issues in online education’, Open Learning. 22(2): pp. 129-138.