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Online Done Right: The importance of human interaction for student success

By Jayson M. Boyers / September 2013

TYPE: OPINION
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Connection Failure

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  • Thu, 26 Sep 2013
    Post by George

    MOOCs have simply brought fully online education  which has been going on for about two decades  more prominently into the mainstream. The only thing that is really different about MOOCs is that they are massive, with thousands of learners in attendance, instead of an online course with 20 to 30 students, for example. The massiveness, however, makes them very impersonal with a massive lack of interaction and sharing between students and with instructors. The term MOOC was actually coined by Professor David Cormier in 2008 in an large online course called "Connectivism and Connective Knowledge" that he was teaching with colleagues Bryan Alexander, George Siemens, and Stephen Downes  all online education experts for many years. Cormiers vision of MOOCs entailed that they be collaborative and participatory (see http://campustechnology.com/articles/2013/09/05/reclaiming-the-original-vision-of-moocs.aspx)  an online teaching and learning experience where people could work and talk and learn in a structured online course. Instead, many of the MOOCs we are seeing are not interactive at all.

    The creators of MOOCs realize that more interactivity needs to be incorporated into these large courses in order to get more people to actually complete them. So we will surely be seeing more educational technologies incorporated into MOOCs that will bring people together in a more exciting and dynamic online environment that is closer to a physical class.

    One of these technologies is video chat, whereby students and faculty can actually see and hear each other through their webcams. A large MOOC, for instance, can break up the huge numbers into smaller groups, each monitored by a teaching assistant, similar to how it is done in large face-to-face lecture courses. The TA and students can all see and hear each other, share documents and resources and basically come close to mimicking what a real face-to-face teaching and learning environment is like. A new player for the facilitation of this kind of live, synchronous environment is a company called Shindig, a video chat online learning platform based out of New York City (see http://www.shindig.com). You can also check out a YouTube video about their new online learning platform http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph1u6t4M34o

  • Thu, 12 Sep 2013
    Post by Paul Jacobelli

    Well said. This is a message that neds to be repeated often lest we get all caught up with the bells and whistles and the latest fads.