INND13: Day 2 – MOOCs and Developmental Education: To Infinity and Beyond

The onset of a sudden and quite nasty little bug kept me out of the morning’s sessions. but thanks to the miracles of modern medicine, I suppressed my symptoms and boldly charged down for the session on MOOCs led by Bryan K Ryan from Wake Tech Community College located in my state of origin, North Carolina.

In 2013, attending an education conference without going to a session on MOOCs is quite difficult. MOOCs are big (no pun intended), and any self-respecting distance education professional needs to be well-versed on the potential, the power, and the pitfalls of this latest big thing. So I’m hitting a session on creating a MOOC for developmental education.

Wake Tech (as we locals shall forever know the institution) received funding for this endeavor as part of the Gates Foundation’s Completion by Design initiative. After exploring options with the three major MOOC players (EdX, Udacity, and Coursera), Wake Tech partnered with Udacity for the development of their Introductory Algebra Review MOOC. Udacity has a Learners Bill of Rights which aligns very nicely with the mission and purpose of community colleges and aims to create “MOOCs for the masses” to enable more people to have more access to more educational,opportunities.

Wake Tech realized that the current test-in programs and diagnostic tests weren’t providing optimal results and they hoped to create a solution similar to Udacity’s Visualizing Algebra course, but their “Introductory Algebra Review” would address five specific modules:

  • DMA010- Operations with Integers
  • DMA020- Fractions and Decimals
  • DMA030- Proportions/Ratios/Rates/Percentages
  • DMA040- Expressions, Linear Equations, Linear Inequalities
  • DMA050- Graphs and Equations of Lines

Rather than taking placement / diagnostic tests upon admission, incoming students are to take MOOC prior to taking placement / diagnostic tests. Furthermore the elements from the modules can be incorporated into existing classes to serve a as review/supplemental materials.

For the MOOC, Wake Tech provides the content and an understanding of the student learning experience while Udacity provides the technical expertise and an “Edutainer” who will act as a guide for the student learning experience.

The course is scheduled to go live on May 1, 2013, but that may or may not prove to be the official launch date.

It’s an exciting opportunity, and I’m eager to see how the course runs, and what obstacles they encounter along the way. This is definitely one of those things I’ll be following for a while.


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