Open UToronto

Open UToronto MOOC Initiative Year Three

Open UToronto MOOC Initiative: Report on Third Year of Activity

October 2015
Laurie Harrison

[ Download the pdf version of this report ]

The University of Toronto continues to lead Canadian institutions in our exploration of the potential of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as we move into our fourth year of activity. Under the umbrella of the broader Open UToronto initiative, partnerships with both Coursera and EdX have been extended to continue activity and exploration related to the evolving landscape of online learning.

Our institutional strategy remains focused on addressing the following goals:

·  Contribute to the education community and the broader public through sharing of institutional expertise and open curriculum content

·  Explore and evaluate a range of pedagogical approaches and open course platforms

·  Leverage use of open educational resources through integration into University of Toronto degree program courses

·  Showcase the University of Toronto’s capacity as a leading institution for teaching, learning and research

New MOOCs in 2014-2015

While several MOOCs were refreshed and offered as repeat sessions, four new MOOCs were developed over the past year, two on Coursera and two on edX. These new courses were offered through four different divisions and introduced new lead instructors.

Title

Instructor

Division

Platform

Wind, Waves and Tides: Alternative Energy Systems

Jim Wallace

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering

Coursera

Death101: Shaping the Future of Global Health

Prabhat Jha

Dalla Lana School of Public Health

edX

Teaching with Technology and Inquiry: An Open Course for Teachers

Jim Slotta

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

edX

iOS App Development in Swift

Parham Aarabi

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering

Coursera

For full details of all MOOC offerings and activity data please see Appendix 1 and Appendix 2 below.

Extending the work described in our Report on Second Year of Activity, key areas where the MOOC model has provided a catalyst for innovation through the use and re-use of digital content, include:

o  Re-use of MOOC content in differentiated fully online degree-credit courses

o  Exploration of a range of models beyond the “traditional” MOOCs, including community outreach initiatives and integrated research initiatives.

o  Creation of on-demand open course content resources for flexible access.

Highlights from the Past Year

In support of UofT’s broader strategic targets, several new initiatives were advanced during the past academic year.

1. Re-use of MOOC content in UOfT degree-credit courses

Several instructors have successfully re-used material originally designed for the MOOC platform in their fully online degree-credit courses, while differentiating and enhancing through additional interactivity and instructor contact. Introduction to Statistics as well as Alternative Energy Systems built upon the capacity afforded through MOOC design and development, serving as base content for their relevant University of Toronto online course offering. These courses have leveraged their MOOC content to provide a more immersive, engaging and interactive learning experience in their degree-credit courses.

2. Pedagogical innovation in course design

Several of the University’s most popular courses (Learning to Program, Statistics) have already produced impressive results used in flipped classroom environments. This past year several others have successfully launched engaging outreach and research initiatives. Teaching with Technology and Inquiry (INQ101x on edX) was an exemplar as a course that embraced new technologies and teaching strategies to reach out to practicing teachers and teacher candidates. Utilizing external wikis and communication tools, INQ101x offered participants two streams of learning; a basic stream where users interacted with the course content and assessment as well as a design stream where users participated in the basic activities and were also able to work in small groups to develop curriculum. The course was well received in the open learning community.

3. University of Toronto alumni cohort pilot

Beginning October 05, 2015 the University of Toronto launched a second offering of its popular Introduction to Psychology, taught by Steve Joordens, but with this session also including a unique space in the course specifically for Alumni. Over 2000 alumni expressed interest in the offering, which incorporates targeted discussion areas, bonus video/lecture content, networking activities, extra support and a live event (in person and streamed online) with professor Joordens. The project will be completed in December 2015.

4. Creation of on-demand open course content resources for flexible access

In partnership with Coursera, and in development with edX, several courses have been (re)designed for an “On-Demand” (Coursera) or “Self-Paced” (edX) model of delivery. Until recently both platforms offered only session-based models. In the traditional session-based model students work through the course as a cohort according to a schedule devised by the course team (typically between 4 and 6 weeks of content). Material is released weekly and there are suggested work hours per week and assessment deadlines for grades. After the course closure date a new student is able access the course material (videos, some assessment, discussions) in an archive, but not complete assessments for grades. In the new On Demand/Self-Paced model all material is released and available all at once. Although a suggested schedule is provided, a student may work through the course as quickly or as slowly as they wish. The greatest benefit to students is that assessment activities are always available and a participant can receive formative and summative feedback as they progress in this mode. Our first four courses to pilot this new model are as follows:

Title

Instructor

Division

Platform

Bioinformatic Methods I

(redesign from session based to On Demand)

Nicolas Provart

Faculty of Arts & Science

Coursera

Bioinformatic Methods II

(redesign from session based to On Demand)

iOS App Development in Swift

Parham Aarabi

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering

Coursera

Behavioral Economics in Action

Dilip Soman

Rotman School of Management

EdX

Launched early in the 2015 academic year as an early pioneer of the “On-Demand” mode course, the Bioinformatic Methods I and II courses have collectively had nearly 50,000 enrollments and well over 500 course completions. The iOS App Development in Swift MOOC currently in progress has also had a strong uptake. In addition to being offered “On-Demand,” both of these are part of a learning experience designed as a series of scaffolded courses to be taken in sequence. A new research project has been initiated by the Online Learning Strategies portfolio and will look at the learner intention, experience and outcomes in the self-paced model.

5. Exploring non-degree program verified certificates for fee

In the summer of 2015 Coursera adopted a default strategy whereby every course offered on its platform would include a for-fee (verified certificate) option. edX is taking a similar approach with a suggested minimum fee for courses to support the platform. To date the University has offered for-fee certificates for the minimum price suggested on each platform at $49 USD. Both platforms still allow students to enroll in courses at no cost, but the for-fee certificates include various strategies for identification verification to ensure the user that has signed up for the course is following the material and completing the assessments. The participants who opt for the fee-based certificates receive a signed certificate that can also be linked to social media accounts. To date, the uptake for verified certificates is small (less than 1% of total enrollment across the board), however niche areas that provide professional training opportunities hold promise. At the time of this report publication, the selection of courses to offer a for-fee certificate and the registrant uptake is as follows:

Title

Instructor

Division

Platform

Registrants paying for certificate

Bioinformatic Methods I
(On Demand)

Nicolas Provart

Faculty of Arts & Science

Coursera

304

Bioinformatic Methods II
(On Demand)

55

Teaching with Technology and Inquiry: An Open Course for Teachers
(Session Based)

Jim Slotta

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

EdX

103

iOS App Development in Swift
(On Demand)

Parham Aarabi

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering

Coursera

825

Behavioral Economics in Action
(On Demand)

Dilip Soman

Rotman School of Management

EdX

94

Introduction to Psychology
(Session Based)

Steve Joordens

University of Toronto Scarborough

Coursera

145

Research Activities and Outputs 2014 – 2015:

Publications:

Dineen, C., Harris, G. & Newman, W. (2015). MOOCs Unshushed: Lessons from creating a professional development Massively Open Online Course (MOOC): Library Advocacy Unshushed on edX [poster session]. Toronto, ON: Ontario Library Association Super Conference.

Harris, J., Heikoop, W., Van Beek, A., & Wallace, J. (2015) Teaching and Advanced Engineering MOOC: Lessons Learned. Proceedings of the Canadian Engineering Education Association (CEEA 2015).
Retrieved from: http://library.queensu.ca/ojs/index.php/PCEEA/article/view/5840

Najafi, H., Evans, R., & Federico, C. (2014). MOOC integration into secondary school courses. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distributed Learning, 15(5).
Retrieved from: http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1861/3098

Najafi, H., Rolheiser, C., Harrison, L., & Håklev, S. (2015). University of Toronto instructors’ experiences with developing MOOCs. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distributed Learning, 16(3).
Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/2073

Conference Presentations:

Najafi, H., Håklev, S., Slotta, J. & Evans, R. (2015). Design Considerations for a Teacher Professional Development MOOC. Paper presented at the Learning with MOOCs Conference, Columbia University, New York.

Håklev, S., Slotta, J., & Najafi, H. (2015). MOOC Design that Supports User-Contributed Content, Interaction and Teamwork. Paper presented at the Learning with MOOCs, Columbia University, New York.

 

Appendix 1 – Cumulative MOOC Data to Fall 2015

Data on registration and completion during the first, second and third years of the MOOC initiative is as follows:

Activity and Completion Stats

Total MOOC Registrants

Active Participants*

Completed for certificate

Registrants completing certificate

Active registrants completing certificate

 

Learn to Program: The Fundamentals

80,000

75450

8240

10%

11%

Neural Networks for Machine Learning

49550

15903

1398

3%

9%

The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness

23491

8193

1423

6%

17%

Aboriginal Worldviews and Education*

20966

8860

3381

16%

38%

Learn to Program: Crafting Quality Code

53974

17224

3352

6%

19%

Statistics: Making Sense of Data

48687

19757

2825

6%

14%

Introduction to Psychology

77608

41708

3691

5%

9%

Behavioural Economics in Action

43042

20019

1154

3%

6%

Our Energetic Earth

10857

4732

458

4%

10%

Bioinformatic Methods I

21072

13396

1540

7%

11%

Library Advocacy Un-shushed

5,197

1519

363

7%

24%

Bioinformatic Methods II

9,529

4058

1036

11%

26%

Wind, Waves and Tides: Alternative Energy Systems

11,795

2648

617

5%

23%

Death 101: Shaping the Future of Global Health

3,915

880

179

5%

20%

Teaching with Technology and Inquiry

9,163

1207

297

3%

12%

 

Second Offering

         

Learn to Program: The Fundamentals

66510

56397

7839

12%

14%

The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness

18364

9460

1005

5%

11%

Behavioural Economics in Action

5334

642

408

8%

64%

Library Advocacy Unshushed

3,033

781

232

8%

30%

 

Total

562,087

302,834

39,438

7%

13%

* Watched a video or completed a quiz

Appendix 2 – Cumulative MOOC Data on all Archive Usage to Fall 2015

Data on registrations in MOOCs available in archive mode during the first, second and third years of the MOOC initiative is as follows.

Title

Registration at end of Session

Total Registration to Date

Archive Users

Learn to Program: The Fundamentals*

80,000

198381

118381

Neural Networks for Machine Learning

49550

180803

131253

The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness

23491

34060

10569

Aboriginal Worldviews and Education**

20966

36437

15471

Learn to Program: Crafting Quality Code

53974

130001

76027

Statistics: Making Sense of Data

48687

143035

94348

Introduction to Psychology

77608

157922

80314

Behavioural Economics in Action

43042

50349

7307

Our Energetic Earth

10857

13266

2409

Bioinformatic Methods I

21072

32951

11879

Bioinformatic Methods II

9529

14293

4764

Library Advocacy Unshushed

5197

5208

11

Wind, Waves and Tides

11795

15896

4101

Death 101

3915

4448

533

Teaching with Technology and Inquiry

9163

9405

242

 

Second Offerings

     

Learn to Program: The Fundamentals

66510

203835

137325

The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness

18364

28177

9813

Behavioural Economics in Action

5334

26246

20912

Library Advocacy Unshushed

3033

3469

436

  Registration at end of Session Total Registration to Date Archive Users

Total

562,087

1258467

696380