The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Friday, June 23, 2017

MOOC Less Stressful to MIT Students

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, departed from its normal practice of marketing massive open online courses (MOOCs) to the public by offering a popular circuits and electronics class to its on-campus students for credit. A study of that pilot program found students who took the class online not only liked the flexibility, but also reported feeling less stress.

MIT launched the pilot to address student concerns over scheduling conflicts. The results have MIT administrators considering more ways to create flexible learning environments for students and professors.

“As you can imagine, MIT students are a very active bunch,” Sheryl Barnes, director of digital learning in residential education, told Insider Higher Ed. “And they expressed frustration they couldn’t resolve scheduling conflicts by having more flexibility.”

There were differences between the MOOC version of the class and the traditional course. MOOC homework and final exam allowed for multiple tries at answers, but provided no partial credit. MOOC students weren’t able to review their graded exam to find out which answers they got wrong, but were provided instant online feedback on homework.

“On the open courseware version of the class, they have lecture slides for each topic that also almost match identically in order of topic,” one student said in the report. “And so I’d just read through all those lecture slides, which were similar, but it was just a little cleaner and a little easier to go through. And they had nice summaries at the beginning of each lecture, like a review of what was covered in the previous set, so I went through those, and then I’d go to the homework, and then while doing the homework, as needed, I’d go back to the videos and watch to listen and review over anything that I didn’t get.”

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