Title

Lessons Learned from Teaching MOOCs at Liberal Arts Colleges

Streaming Media

Submission Type

Panel Discussion

Abstract

Five years ago, the New York Times declared 2012 to be the “Year of the MOOC” (Pappano 2012). Although research universities led the movement, several liberal arts colleges (most notably Wellesley, Colgate, Davidson, Hamilton, and Wesleyan) climbed aboard the bandwagon that promoted massive open online courses as a grand experiment to reshape higher education, while faculty elsewhere (such as Amherst) voted to stay off (Kolowich 2012, Rivard 2013, Straumsheim 2015). When our institution, Trinity College, partnered with edX in 2014 and began to launch courses on the TrinityX platform, each of us decided to go along for the ride and explore this new terrain, while remaining skeptical of the hype. Now we share reflections from our journeys.

Both presenters have designed and taught edX courses for dual purposes:

1) to freely expand education for a global community of online learners

2) to supplement instruction for existing face-to-face courses at our liberal arts college

Dan Lloyd created his non-credit edX course, “The Conscious Mind: A Philosophical Road Trip,” which he blended into his for-credit Trinity course, Philosophy 374 Minds and Brains (cross-listed with Neuroscience) in Spring 2016 and 2017.

https://www.edx.org/course/conscious-mind-philosophical-road-trip-trinityx-t004x-0

Jack Dougherty and contributors created his non-credit edX course and open-access book, “Data Visualization for All,” which he blended into his for-credit Data Visualization internship seminar in Spring 2017.

https://www.edx.org/course/data-visualization-all-trinityx-t005x

http://DataVizForAll.org

Dan Lloyd’s presentation:

Being massive, open, and online, a MOOC affords the possibility of spreading the life-enriching ideals of the liberal arts to an audience that cannot access the expensive, elite, and localized resources of a residential college like Bryn Mawr, Trinity (where I teach), or Oberlin (my alma mater). But a) Will MOOCs come to embody liberal ideals? And b) Can they? Regarding (a), in their course offerings, publicity, and platform limitations, EdX and Coursera promote a vision of higher education that is technical, instrumental, and intellectually authoritarian. Regarding (b), the decentered, asynchronous, and relatively impersonal MOOC format presents pedagogic challenges to the liberal arts mission of promoting curiosity, empathy, and open-minded inquiry. In this presentation, I hope to present some ideas for retooling the MOOC toward a free and transnational education that promotes the ideals of the liberal arts. The examples will include small bits of my own MOOC, offered to spark ideas among those of us who might be pondering MOOC creation: What can be taught? And how?

Jack Dougherty’s presentation:

The online MOOC marketplace forces small colleges to compete with large research universities that can more efficiently create conventional online courses with high-quality video production. Liberal arts colleges are not likely to win at their game. Instead, we should rethink our use of web technologies to focus on what we do well: engaging students in our face-to-face communities as co-researchers, co-authors, and co-instructors for open-access books with online course components. My presentation will offer ideas on collaborating with liberal arts students as active producers, rather than mere consumers, of online knowledge, with examples drawn from http://DataVizForAll.org.

Session

Presentation

Location

Thomas 224

Start Date

5-17-2017 4:20 PM

End Date

5-17-2017 5:40 PM

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May 17th, 4:20 PM May 17th, 5:40 PM

Lessons Learned from Teaching MOOCs at Liberal Arts Colleges

Thomas 224

Five years ago, the New York Times declared 2012 to be the “Year of the MOOC” (Pappano 2012). Although research universities led the movement, several liberal arts colleges (most notably Wellesley, Colgate, Davidson, Hamilton, and Wesleyan) climbed aboard the bandwagon that promoted massive open online courses as a grand experiment to reshape higher education, while faculty elsewhere (such as Amherst) voted to stay off (Kolowich 2012, Rivard 2013, Straumsheim 2015). When our institution, Trinity College, partnered with edX in 2014 and began to launch courses on the TrinityX platform, each of us decided to go along for the ride and explore this new terrain, while remaining skeptical of the hype. Now we share reflections from our journeys.

Both presenters have designed and taught edX courses for dual purposes:

1) to freely expand education for a global community of online learners

2) to supplement instruction for existing face-to-face courses at our liberal arts college

Dan Lloyd created his non-credit edX course, “The Conscious Mind: A Philosophical Road Trip,” which he blended into his for-credit Trinity course, Philosophy 374 Minds and Brains (cross-listed with Neuroscience) in Spring 2016 and 2017.

https://www.edx.org/course/conscious-mind-philosophical-road-trip-trinityx-t004x-0

Jack Dougherty and contributors created his non-credit edX course and open-access book, “Data Visualization for All,” which he blended into his for-credit Data Visualization internship seminar in Spring 2017.

https://www.edx.org/course/data-visualization-all-trinityx-t005x

http://DataVizForAll.org

Dan Lloyd’s presentation:

Being massive, open, and online, a MOOC affords the possibility of spreading the life-enriching ideals of the liberal arts to an audience that cannot access the expensive, elite, and localized resources of a residential college like Bryn Mawr, Trinity (where I teach), or Oberlin (my alma mater). But a) Will MOOCs come to embody liberal ideals? And b) Can they? Regarding (a), in their course offerings, publicity, and platform limitations, EdX and Coursera promote a vision of higher education that is technical, instrumental, and intellectually authoritarian. Regarding (b), the decentered, asynchronous, and relatively impersonal MOOC format presents pedagogic challenges to the liberal arts mission of promoting curiosity, empathy, and open-minded inquiry. In this presentation, I hope to present some ideas for retooling the MOOC toward a free and transnational education that promotes the ideals of the liberal arts. The examples will include small bits of my own MOOC, offered to spark ideas among those of us who might be pondering MOOC creation: What can be taught? And how?

Jack Dougherty’s presentation:

The online MOOC marketplace forces small colleges to compete with large research universities that can more efficiently create conventional online courses with high-quality video production. Liberal arts colleges are not likely to win at their game. Instead, we should rethink our use of web technologies to focus on what we do well: engaging students in our face-to-face communities as co-researchers, co-authors, and co-instructors for open-access books with online course components. My presentation will offer ideas on collaborating with liberal arts students as active producers, rather than mere consumers, of online knowledge, with examples drawn from http://DataVizForAll.org.