MOOC’s represent a fundamental change in the way students are confronted with material and how they engage in it. The essence of a MOOC is to activate, to elicit interest, action and debate about the content between the students themselves. Short videos of 2-4 minutes are intertwined with quizzes to stimulate active attention, behavior and debate. Each week has homework, the course ends with an exam. Students get real time feedback on their quiz answers and can compare their performance on homework and final exam with others.
Students feel a very low threshold to interact. This interaction stimulates to think more and longer about the material. They provide each other with examples, questions, answers, links to definitions, etc. This enriches the environment tremendously. Many hundreds of students debate in 38 forum discussions, they have links for further reading, FAQ’s etc. The video lectures are short and condensed, fitting the short attention span the modern YouTube generation has. Hand written notes and many cartoonlike graphics provide peripheral stimulation. Students have the feeling the lecturer talks to them individually because of the casual video quality and environment. Students like the material and setting very much.
Sakai was chosen because of the freedom to create customized functionality and measurement data for an exhaustive evaluation. A dedicated and tweaked Sakai 2.9 instance was installed as MOOC platform. The University of Amsterdam has a long experience with online classes (web class) for prospective students. The existing enrollment and syllabus tool was reengineered to meet the demands of the MOOC platform. All content pages, the lectures and all course information use the lesson builder tool. The Forum tool, a Facebook page and twitter feed are the centre tools for user interactions and teacher/staff student communication. The MOOC platform has its own modern (bootstrap) look with the news skins that have been developed for the MOOC.
More the 40 quizzes and a full-length online exam (100 questions) use the Test & Quizzes tool. The usage data serve the in depth analysis on the usage & appreciation of the course. A series of articles will be based on the learning’s that emerge from the data.
The project was set up to monitor how many students enroll and how many drop out, where, when and why. The monitoring also provides data about what content stimulates the amount and quality of the discussion. It is expected that MOOC’s will evolve rapidly and therefore the platform needs rapid development as well. The videos are short to be able to replace them when they do not work, contain errors or get outdated. The video’s were tested before the off line student group to find if they are understood and elicit discussion.