Massive Open Online Course & Online Learning

A massive open online course (MOOC) is an online course that anyone can attend for free. These courses are aimed at expanding the opportunity to learn for all students around the world, at no cost.

Why were MOOCs created?

MOOCs were initially designed as a tool to educate the masses and provide general access to academia. Organizations like Coursera were one of the first organizations to offer MOOCs. Georgia Tech is one of the first Universities to partner with Industry (AT&T and Udacity) to offer an accredited Master’s program in Computer Science that is completely taught in MOOC format.

What are the benefits of MOOCs?

For students?

  • MOOCs provide students with accessibility to a higher education at a low cost with flexibility.
  • MOOCs provide students the opportunity to engage with others worldwide through online discussion forums.
  • Everyone can participate in lifelong learning, some MOOCs do not have prerequisites.
  • Students can progress at their own pace.

For faculty?

  • MOOCs offer faculty the opportunity to assume the role of facilitator with active learners.
  • MOOC format classrooms are engaging and allow for active interaction.
  • Faculty are able to reach student audiences at a magnitude that is larger than on-campus teaching.
  • MOOCs provide an experimental space where faculty and administration can test new pedagogies and teaching tools, such as auto grading, auto simulations and educational gaming; and analyze how students learn.

For administration?

  • Universities can be at the forefront of the new wave of education and the evolution of traditional education.
  • Administrators can boast high productivity and the use of leading edge technology within their University.
  • Universities will be able to provide accessible advanced education to a wider audience at a low cost.
  • MOOCS provide an experimental space where faculty and administration can test new pedagogies and teaching tools, auto simulations and educational gaming; and analyze how students learn.
  • Universities have the potential to reach thousands of potential learners and the ability to build global learning communities.
  • Another potential of MOOCs is connecting MOOC ‘graduates’ with future employers.

What are the challenges of MOOCs?

The most common challenges are individual instruction, student performance assessment, and long-term administration and oversight:

  • Performance by students is hard to monitor, potential issues are cheating, validating original work and detecting plagiarism.
  • There are fewer opportunities for one-on-one interaction with a professor and customization in the MOOC class format.
  • There is a higher initial expense for creating new courses than an on-campus environment. MOOCs require support staff, which will affect the roles and responsibilities of University administrators.
  • Students are “on their own” which could inhibit learning via social reinforcement and interaction. Discussions forums can be disconnected and not relevant to the class material, encouraging students to be collegiate via online forums can be challenging.

Case Study: Georgia Tech’s OMS CS (Online course in MOOC format)

In March 2015, President Obama recognized Georgia Tech’s OMS CS as an ‘example of the kind of innovation needed by the United States to address the rising costs of higher education’.

The Georgia Institute of Technology, Udacity and AT&T have teamed up to offer the first accredited Master of Science in Computer Science that students earn exclusively through the Massive Open Online Course delivery format. This collaboration brings together leaders in education, MOOCs, and industry to apply the MOOC teaching to widen the pipeline of high-quality educated talent needed in Computer Science fields.

With 13 OMS courses offered during the Fall and Spring semesters, and 8 summer courses, students are able to not only complete a Master of Science in Computer Science, but they can also specialize in a variety of areas, such as: Interactive intelligence, machine learning and social computing, among others. In addition students, have the opportunity to learn from both academic and industry leaders.

Highlighted Course: Artificial Intelligence for Robotics: Taught by Sebastian Thrun, Udacity CEO 

In this course, you learn how to program all the major systems of a robotic car from the leader of Google and Stanford’s autonomous driving teams. This class teaches you basic methods in Artificial Intelligence, including: probabilistic inference, planning and search, localization, tracking and control, all with a focus on robotics. Extensive programming examples and assignments will apply these methods in the context of building self-driving cars. At the end of the course, you will leverage what you learned by solving the problem of a runaway robot that you must chase and hunt down!

Case Study: IU MOOC

Indiana University President McRobbie is dedicated to extending Indiana University’s national and international reach through the IU Online Initiative.

This new initiative will accelerate the development and delivery of experimental massive open online courses, in order to address Indiana’s economic and professional development needs, and to extend the university’s national and international reach. It will also help with the systematic evaluation and development of new technologies that will underpin the new directions in online education.

Highlighted Course: Big Data Applications and Analytics: Taught by Geoffrey Fox, director of the University’s Digital Science Center

Course encompasses 24 hours of course material in 12 sections (3 are optional), plus homework. The class uses Google Plus community forums and Google Hangouts On Air for instructor and student interaction. The courses uses either Python or Java, with side MOOCs available for those who need help with their Python and Java Skills. Students can earn Open Badges to show they have completed the course.

Highlighted Course: Information Visualization: Taught by Katy Borner, director of Indiana University’s Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center

Students collaborate on projects for real-world clients. Course encompasses 15-week course and free access to IU’s scholarly database of 26 million paper, patent, geospatial, and to SCI2 Tool (modular toolset that supports analysis and visualization of scholarly datasets). A unique hashtag allows students to share their visualizations via Flickr.

What is the future of MOOCs?

The future of MOOCs lies in both the potential to customize courses and to also incorporate this instructional tool into the existing traditional education model. Using machine learning to collect and analyze data from the learning system can provide administrators and faculty the ability to test hypotheses about how people learn. This will allow for improvement and tailoring of future MOOC programs to better suit each student’s learning style and needs. Potential directions for MOOCs could include offering MOOCs as a challenge or crowdsourcing, using the MOOC to address a pressing problem with the goal to come up with potential solutions. But the key strategy that academic leaders are addressing is integration. Finding the best method for utilizing MOOCs as an instructional tool that complements the traditional academic models is the forefront discussion among emerging and established colleges of computing and interdisciplinary IT schools.



MOOC Wiki Page

Georgia Tech OMS CS