By Rod Digges, on 6 March 2013
I’ve just watched Professor Keith Devlin of Stanford and a colleague being interviewed about their first experiences of running a MOOC last September. The interview touched on some of the lessons they’d learned which they’re hoping to use to improve the second iteration of their popular MOOC on mathematical thinking. The second version kicked off a few days ago on the 4th March.
I enjoyed the interview and Professor Devlin’s obvious enthusiasm and humility regarding his role as teacher made it easy to warm to him as a person. Some interesting points are made regarding changes to the course after analysis of the demographic and feedback from students. Much of the discussion revolves around the importance that Professor Devlin places on trying to put a human face to a ’dry’ subject made potentially even dryer by it’s mode of delivery.
The interview suggests that the team have succeeded, at least to some extent, in creating a feeling of instructor presence resulting, they think, in students committing more to the course than they otherwise might have. Worth a look for anyone interested in the development of distance learning, but also interesting perhaps for tutors involved in the teaching of large cohorts of students and also concerned about issues of de-personalisation.
The interview can be viewed at: https://class.coursera.org/maththink-002/lecture/126
Unfortunately you have to create a Coursera account to view the interview which forms part of the introductory material to the new course – fortunately it’s free!
Professor Devlin is also maintaining ’A real-time chronicle of a seasoned professor who is about to give his second massively open online course.’ a (probably) unique opportunity to get behind the scenes and see some of the thinking behind the development of this MOOC as it unfolds. To read more got to: http://mooctalk.org/