Armando Fox, a professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Berkeley, author of successful MOOCs and leader at the Open edX community, was honored in June with the Association for Computing Machinery’s Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award.
“Mr. Fox was instrumental in adapting a software-engineering course at Berkeley to be offered as a massive open online course, or MOOC, beginning in 2011. One of the course’s innovations was an automatic grading system to evaluate the correctness and style of student programming assignments,” Ruth Hammond reported at The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Armando Fox is the author of the term “SPOCs” or Small Private Online Courses –that is, MOOCs intended for a small audience of learners on campus.
This eight-week, free course, taught by UC Berkeley’s professors Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon Thomas, shares their findings on science and practice. This course on positive psychology explores the roots of a meaningful life and highlights the idea that happiness is linked to having strong social ties and contributing to something bigger than yourself –the greater good.
Students learn about relevant happiness research through compelling videos featuring professors Keltner and Simon as guest instructors. There are “actionable happiness exercises; accessible reading material; and a weekly “emotion check-in.”“We put the secrets of happiness at your fingertips with just a click of a button”, they say.
Class-Central.com has come up with a list of the top 50 free online courses of all time based on thousands of reviews written by their users.
“When I launched Class Central back in November 2011, there were around 18 or so free online courses and almost all of them were at Stanford. Now there are close to 6,000 MOOCs from 600+ universities around the world,” explained Dhawal Shah, Founder and CEO of Class Central.
TU Delft, the largest and oldest public technological university in the Netherlands, announced this week that it has reached 1 million enrollments, with an average age of 29, in its 36 MOOCs in science, design and engineering since 2013.
MOOCs’ content is typically derived from classes given in TU Delft’s regular degree programs. At the university level, “these open courses have been used to enable students to attend the lectures online so classroom hours are dedicated to in-depth discussion of the course material, rather than to knowledge transfer”.
Some companies, such as Royal Haskoning DHV and Capgemini, have used the MOOCs internally as part of company training.
TU Delft has released MOOCs for children, too. The MOOC in Dutch “Scratch, programmeren voor kinderen (8+)” (Scratch, programming for kids (8+)), started on June 15, has attracted 2,500 kids.
“Solar Energy” by Arno Smets, TU Delft’s first MOOC, in 2013, has reached 130,000 enrollments and has been translated into Arabic on the Jordanian edraak.org platform, with the goal to adopt solar energy as an energy source in the Middle East. The course teaches how to install a photovoltaic system using solar panels, and so contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
Anka Mulder, vice-president of TU Delft and the driving force behind the MOOCs at the university, has announced that for-credit MOOCs are next.
‘We are now working hard on the next step: ensuring that our students can earn credits for MOOCs of TU Delft, as well as for those from partner universities and vice versa. This means that they will gain access to a wide range of courses from top lecturers around the world. The challenge lies in agreeing on which courses we recognize and how many credits our students can earn in a certain phase of their degree program.’
The following are the course enrollments at Delft:
Number of Runs
Creative Problem Solving & Decision Making
Data Analysis to the MAX()
Introduction to Credit Risk Management
Framing : How Politicians Debate
Product Design: Delft Design Approach
Data Analysis: Building Your Own Business Dashboard
Read this interesting thought from Dr. Joshua Kim, director of Digital Learning Initiatives al Dartmouth University, from Inside Higher Ed:
“Those of us participating in the open online education movement (…) never thought that MOOCs would disrupt higher ed. We create open online courses because offering educational opportunities to the world’s learners is both aligned with our missions, and because we think that participating in this movement is a good way to learn about learning.”
And a good example of the success of the open education (or open courses) movement is edX. Dr. Joshua Kim is sharing these mind blowing numbers:
There are 8.3 million (unique) lifelong learners on the edX platform.
Between 2012, when edX started, and today – there have been 27 million course enrollments.
Over 1,000 courses have been offered.
There have been over 2,300 faculty and staff who have taught on edX.
Over 840,000 certificates have been earned by edX learners.
EdX has over 100 schools, institutes and organizations in the Consortium creating open online courses.
Who exactly are all these lifelong learners on the edX platform?
Seven-in-ten lifelong learners are 25 years old or older.
The median age of an edX learner is 29.
About 36 percent are women, and each year the proportion of women learners on the edX platform grows. It will be interesting to see if the gender distribution for open online learning starts to match that for post-secondary education as a whole (~57%).
Over two-thirds have a bachelor degree or higher, with over a quarter having a masters. (And 4% having a PhD).
And where do edX’s lifelong learners come from?
There are lifelong learners in every country of the world (save North Korea).
A bit over a quarter (27%) of edX learners come from the U.S. The next biggest country is India (11%), the U.K. and Brazil (both 4%) and China, Canada, and Mexico (3% each).
Over four-in-ten edX learners live in emerging economy countries.
“Does Coursera, NovoEd, FutureLearn, Canvas.net, and other open online learning platforms report similar levels and trends?”, wonders Dr. Kim.
OpenCraft, an Open edX provider led by French developer Xavier Antoviaque, has announced the launch of an pre-installed service to host small Open edX instances, which “can be a good place for a first course experimentation with a small set of students; or as a side instance for tests,”according to his creator.
Eucalyptus will be based on the edX.org code’s master branch of July 8, according to Ned Batchelder, an Open edX manager. The edX engineering team will put together Eucalyptus-related release notes, including the latest developments since Dogwood.
— Update July 22: Eucalyptus RC1 has been finally released on Friday 22. See the announcement.
Microsoft announced this week an online certification program, intended for professionals and graduates who are interested in Data Science. This program features several courses on Microsoft Excel, Power BI, R and Python languages, statistics and machine learning.
Available on edX.org as a free initiative with a verified certificate from $25 to $99, the Microsoft Data Science Curriculum outlines three units —Fundamentals, Core Data Science and Applied Data Science— and a capstone project requirement where “learners” showcase their acquired talents.
“At Microsoft, we believe the approach and tools used for learning need to continually evolve to meet the demands of our device-centric and data-driven world,”said Alison Cunard, the general manager at Microsoft Learning Experiences. She added that in the current era of technology, “both technical and functional skills are becoming increasingly critical across all careers and vocations.”
“MOOCs are also leading us in new ways of using digital technologies to enhance our on-campus courses. In Australia, MOOCs have proven popular with hundreds of high school students and pre-university students, who are looking for ways to gauge whether a program is right for them,” said Dr Katy McDevitt, AdelaideX Program Manager.
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