Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hey, that's me!

edX released some working papers on what they learned from MOOCs (and their students).
A graduate-level course in public health should attract different registrants, on average, than an introductory physics course, or a course on global poverty.
As someone who took all three courses, I want to ask why would you find this odd? Isn't curiosity normal? None of these courses assumed prior knowledge other than some high-school level math so they are accessible to a broad audience.
One interesting subpopulation is the group of people who enroll in and complete multiple courses. More than 4,000 registrants across MITx and HarvardX earned more than one certificate, including 1,912 who earned at least one certificate from each institution. Seventy-six registrants earned five or more certificates.
So our household accounts for 2 out of the 76. What about yours?

BTW, if anyone from edX is reading this, please note that you did recoup beaucoup bucks from us for these free courses. Bad Dad and I both attended Bricks and Mortar schools in the edX consortium. We both volunteered to work on our class reunion gift campaigns and give generously in part because we believe edX is a fantastic idea.

Go Bears! Go Beavers!

Bad Dad and I are now taking Jazz Appreciation and Probability together. He began playing jazz standards on our piano in spare moments. He does this even when it is not Valentine's day. Now, that's romantic. Actually, he did something even more romantic after Coursera's ModPo; that was so special, it deserves it's own post.

When I was volunteering as a tutor at a Title I school, I referred a couple of advanced students to edX and Coursera. They didn't complete every course they sampled or earn certificates. But, they did learn something and gained from the experiences. edX is great for motivated low-income kids who have access to broadband and adults who can help them in person. That's a lot of ifs. Instead of branding MOOCs a failure for disadvantaged students, we should try to help them access the tools to help improve their odds: broadband, a quiet place to study and adults who can help them in person.


  1. Jim and I both took classes and both received certificates. Jim now writes his own lovely poetry and I just had one of my poems published. I'd call that a successful MOOC, wouldn't you? I think the critics are measuring the wrong things. The MOOCs seem to be bringing older students back to learning. We'll donate in gratitude.We'll volunteer locally. Kelly Writers House got a check from me, as does Berkeley. How is that a bad thing?

  2. I like the availability in classes in a wide variety of subjects and I think edX is a fabulous program, although I haven't actually taken as many courses as I initially planned. Plans have a way of going awry but I know I will be getting back to it.

  3. I'm doing an EdX course right now, on a work-related topic. It is great for me, and I suspect I'll do more courses in the future. But I'm not sure if it would have been great for me as a college-aged kid. I don't know. But then again, EdX doesn't have to be great for everyone!

  4. Anonymous14:09

    I need to give this another try. I got through 75% of a coursera class, and even though I found it interesting, I never finished it. It may have something to do with the fact that, in my mind, online video is decadent, but the course felt like work.

  5. Little Hunting Creek said: " I think the critics are measuring the wrong things. "

    well, except as i understand it the MOOC promoters/originators were the ones making the claims that MOOCs would provide educational opportunities for people who are less privileged (less money, less education before hand). So imo it's only fair to judge them based on their own claims.

    The people who originally developed/promoted MOOCs were saying that MOOCs would be a door into learning and credits for people without that type of background, and looks like they're having to revise that stance based on evidence.

    I can learn anywhere, anytime - sit me down in a paper bag and i'll learn something about volume, topology, weathering, whatever. Let me loose in a library and it's heaven for me. But that's because i was born to two smart-ass cookies who used every single second of every day to teach us things as well as teach us how to learn and how to value learning. I got enrichment up the wazoo from the time i was 3.

    For me a MOOC would be a simple and easy way to get credits/knowledge/life enrichment. Because i already have learned how to learn that way.

    Here's some links on this topic from our local PBS station, here in San Francisco. Since a lot of MOOC-tivism has been coming out of San Jose, they've been covering the issue regularly.


    Here's an hour long discussion, including the founder of Udacity, Sebastian Thrun:


    Happy Day! Hooray Rain!!!! steph


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