Despite erroneously suggesting that MOOCs were invented in 2013 Anant Agarwal, the President of edX — Harvard’s and MIT’s collaborative MOOC venture and the instructor of the first edX course on circuits and electronics, points to some key aspects of the edX courses which contribute to student achievement. These include:
- Active Learning – Lessons are interleaved sequences of videos and interactive exercises.
- Self Pacing – Students can hit the pause button or even rewind the professor.
- Instant Feedback – Students can try to apply answers. If they get it wrong, they can get instant feedback. They can try it again and try it again until they great it right, and this really becomes much more engaging.
- Gamification – You can engage students much like they design with Legos…the learners are building a circuit with Lego-like ease. And this can also be graded by the computer.
- Peer Learning – Students answer each others questions in the online forums and the Prof confirms the right answer. Students are learning from each other and that they are learning by teaching.
A well designed online course that provides the opportunity for active learning, self pacing, instant feedback and peer interaction can contribute toward student achievement and success. As we can see from John Hattie’s examples below of Teaching Effects several of the edX effects make the the top fo Hattie’s list:
Rather ask if online learning is working perhaps we should be asking if we are getting these same effects in our traditional classrooms.