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This is Not the Course You’re Looking For

I was participating in the short-lived and ill-fated Fundamentals of Online Education course on coursera.org before it was shut down. Inside Higher Ed has a good overview of what happened with the course. As the article notes, there were problems with the group assignment process, but that was really just the beginning of the problems in the course.

I was concerned when I started viewing the videos. I didn’t think to get a screen capture, but the slides were poorly designed, with an unrelated graphic element taking up the top third of the screen, a difficult-to-read display font, and a lot of text. The instructor essentially read the slides. The material was presented as a very limited overview of concepts. Various learning theories were presented without any discussion of whether or how they were scientifically supported or any controversy or disagreements (also, are we really still teaching people about learning styles?).

An acquaintance of mine told me recently how she left her learning and development master’s program for a degree in liberal studies after seeing the adult learning professors fail to adhere to everyone of their espoused best practices. This course was quite a bit like that.

It’s easy to criticize the work of others, and I’m certain that developing a MOOC is challenging. But it’s not an impossible task – Kevin Werbach led a great course on Gamification. And it’s not unreasonable to expect an expert in the development of learning experiences to provide a good learning experience. The instructor has emailed the students indicating that the course may return after retooling. I hope those efforts don’t stop with group assignment.

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