the second research-oriented workshop on massive open online courses

MOOCshop 2014 was the second iteration of the Workshop on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), an interdisciplinary forum for researchers to address the pedagogical and technological opportunities in designing and evaluating MOOCs. Using a participatory problem-solving framework, the goal of MOOCshop 2014 was to collaboratively generate priorities for platform development, instructional strategies, and research on MOOCs, with a clear emphasize on learning. 
Click here for information about the first MOOCshop (at AIED 2013).

We invited researchers, technologists, course designers, and interested parties from universities and industry to participate in a set of activities and discussions around integrating insights from the learning sciences into the design of MOOCs, as well as how MOOCs provide opportunities for the learning sciences as a site for research. The principle question this workshop aimed to explore was how can the Learning Sciences provide insights that inform the development of technologies and pedagogical strategies in massive open online courseware?

Date: June 23, 2014 @ the 11th International Conference of the Learning Sciences in Boulder, Colorado (ICLS Workshop Schedule)
Suite 331, Millenium Harvest House Hotel

  • Dr. Ryan BakerTeachers College Columbia University
  • Mr. Jonathan Haber, Degree of Freedom
  • Dr. Daniel Hickey, Indiana University
  • Dr. Alyssa Wise, Simon Fraser University
  • Mr. Marcelo Worsley, Stanford University

    The panelists offered different perspectives to both ground the conversation in identifying the hindrances and obstacles to learning in current MOOC implementations and sum up the day's activities by discussing opportunities and challenges for Learning Sciences researchers to study MOOCs and share relevant data. 

Goals & Outcomes:
The organizers of MOOCshop 2014 aim to generate tangible outputs that will help set the roadmap for the platform development, instructional strategies, and research on MOOCs, with a clear emphasis on learning. We anticipate publishing the results of the discussions in this workshop as a white paper that will outline recommendations and priorities for next-generation MOOC courseware. Furthermore, this white paper will outline ways of moving forward, in order to guide future conversations. We anticipate that these activities will be followed up throughout the Learning Sciences community, and subsequently, to engage the community in researching and contributing to the design of MOOC platforms and courses. Overall, the outcome of this workshop will outline both what is known and what should inform the design of future MOOCs, as well as what is yet to be known and should inform the research agenda of the Learning Sciences community. We hope for this artifact to be a central method by which a community of researchers can come together in order to put learning in the forefront of the MOOC ecosystem. 

Participants in MOOCshop 2014 approached the question of how the Learning Sciences can affect MOOC courseware through a scholarly participatory problem-solving framework. The organizers acknowledge that there are no MOOC experts (Siemens, 2013), and that those who have been embedded in the MOOC movement, either as researchers, instructors, or students, are still exploring the space as it constantly changes shape and dimension. Yet, at the same time, we recognize that there is substantial expertise with respect to the components of teaching and learning, a principle goal of those involved in MOOCs. This workshop arranged these experts along two activities done in serial, with the morning of the day focusing on the deconstruction of the MOOC space, and the afternoon focused on reconstructing this space from a learning science research perspective. 

Steven Lonn, University of Michigan
Christopher Brooks, University of Michigan
Zach Pardos, University of California at Berkeley
Barry Peddycord III, North Carolina State University
Ido Roll, University of British Columbia
Emily Schneider, Stanford University
Ashley Shaw, University of British Columbia

Questions / Contact:
Steven Lonn (slonn (at) umich (dot) edu)
Ido Roll (ido (dot) roll (at) ubc (dot) ca)

Planned Program:

Morning theme: Deconstructing the MOOC experience

  • 9:00-9:30: Organizer intro: Welcome and overview of the MOOC space
    The opening remarks will describe the MOOC research and design space, with a variety of perspectives on what a MOOC is, including a discussion of cMOOCs (e.g., CCK08, an online course in connectivism) and xMOOCs (e.g., courses taught on websites such as Coursera, Udacity, or EdX, which generally use lecture videos, automatically graded quizzes, and a message board for student 
    interactions). We will help disambiguate MOOCs from learning on the web, and identify some of the less well-known categories in this space such as gMOOCs (gamed-based MOOCs), SPOCs (small private online courses), and BOOCs (big - under 500 - as opposed to massive). Our intent is to demonstrate the breadth of perspectives, techniques, and approaches being explored in this space.

  • 9:30-10:30: Invited Panel: MOOCs and Learning: What, in your opinion, is the biggest hindrance to learning in MOOCs?
    • Panelists: Mr. Jonathan Haber, Dr. Alyssa Wise
      Each speaker will give a short presentation on the intersection of MOOCs and learning, and together the panel will respond to a series of questions posed by the organizers and attendees. 

  • 10:30 - 11:00: coffee break

  • 11:00-11:30: Full-group discussion: Refinement of themes from panel and participants
    Participants will build on themes raised during the panel discussion using the post-it notes along with the reflections they may have gained through coffee discussion.

  • 11:30-12:00: Groupwork: Brainstorming learning sciences approaches to address themes
    Each group will address a particular improvement category with learning science approaches for addressing the challenges. Groups will be asked to focus on the design of technologies or of individual / group learning activities and potential research questions.

  • 12:00-12:30 Full-group discussion: Reporting out of groups

  • 12:30-2 lunch
    Further discussion of themes, possible solutions and research opportunities, and networking

 Afternoon theme: Reconstructing MOOCs with a Learning Sciences approach

  • 2:00-3:00: Groupwork: Refining learning sciences approaches to address themes
    Participants will reorganize into different groups depending on interests. Groups will be asked to refine brainstormed ideas from the morning session with a focus on reconstructing MOOC pedagogy, platforms, and environments in light of learning sciences theory and research. 
    The aim is not to generate a perfect MOOC environment, rather, to identify requirements for MOOC platforms that may lend to their success for particular situations. The groups will also develop concrete research questions that build on proposed and current designs. 
  • 3:00-3:30: Full-group discussion: Reporting out of groups

  • 3:30-4:00: coffee break

  • 4:00-4:45: Invited Panel: My current MOOC research: What's missing, how learning sciences informs future work, and opportunities for collaboration 
    • Panelists: Dr. Ryan Baker, Dr. Daniel Hickey, Mr. Marcelo Worsley
      The panel will discuss opportunities and challenges for learning sciences research on MOOC environments and sharing MOOC data in order to increase availability of data from a large number of courses to Learning Sciences researchers.

  • 4:45-5:00: Organizer closing: Quick reflections, setting of priorities and future directions. 
    The organizers will synthesize the days' results and provide a discussion of steps to take place after the conference closes