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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.



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

MOOCs Not Dead Yet

While the initial burst of enthusiasm over massive open online courses (MOOCs) may have expired, a wrapup report on a MOOC tied to a TV show about zombies reveals there may still be some life in the format.

As previously recounted on The CITE, Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead was offered last fall at no charge on Instructure’s Canvas Network platform, taught by a multidisciplinary panel of professors from the University of California at Irvine with some involvement from the show’s cast and crew.

Some 65,000 people worldwide signed up for the eight-week course. One of its chief aims was to determine whether more students would persist to completion if instructors applied the scientific concepts to an apocalypic survival scenario, albeit a fictional one. According to Instructure’s new report, that goal was achieved.

Instructure doesn’t say how many students remained at the end, but about 12,000 filled out an exit survey, suggesting a much higher percentage finished than in the usual MOOC. About 59% had never taken any type of online course before and 83.6% had never taken a MOOC. But, 83% said they spent at least an hour a week on course assignments, not including watching that week’s new episode.

Not all of the enrollees were fans of the show, some indicating instead they were intrigued by the multidisciplinary approach and its application. More than half of the survey respondents said they’d be more apt to take another MOOC with multidisciplinary content than a single-topic course.

And that may reveal the real key to student success in MOOCs and any other educational format: When the course content and course materials are brought to life in an interesting way, more students remain engaged in the topic and make it through the course.

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