Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Different Look at MOOCs

Just when it seemed like nothing new could be written on the subject of massive open online courses (MOOCs), along comes an article with a unique spin. The Boston Globe interviewed a Lexington, MA, author and entrepreneur who is trying to cram 32 MOOCs into a single calendar year to earn what he believes is the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.

Jonathan Haber, 51, earned a degree in chemistry from Wesleyan University in 1985. He founded and sold a company that did computer testing and training, and is now a stay-at-home dad. Since January, Haber has completed or is currently taking about a dozen classes from edX and Coursera.

Haber, who is blogging about his experience at degreeoffreedom.org, has already found that discussion boards work best when fewer people contribute and that they often become political rants when more students participate. He is also taking a literature course with 25,000 students enrolled that uses peer-to-peer grading where students are each required to grade three other papers based on specific instructions.

“Peer grading can be used to get people to stay focused on the message, but it also means somebody who wants to spread their wings a little bit, they can’t do it there,” Haber said. “[MOOCs are] definitely going to make a big contribution to changing education. The risk is, everyone is so excited about them now, it will be one of those angel/devil things when, in fact, they are an interesting work in progress.”

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