Title

From Blended to MOOC and Back: Lessons from online language courses in multiple contexts.

Streaming Media

Submission Type

20-minute Presentation

Abstract

During the past four years, Wellesley College created online materials that function as a complete free textbook for courses on Italian language and culture, which have been offered in the following contexts and formats:

  • as a blended course (featuring fewer class meetings than in the traditional format) taught for 5 terms on the Wellesley campus, and 2 terms at MIT;

  • as a limited enrollment online course (enhanced with online conversation practice with tutors), offered for 3 summers to about 500 Wellesley students and alumnae;

  • as a MOOC, open to the entire world at no cost, with over 50,000 students participating.

We have extensively surveyed the students in all three formats, and formally evaluated some of the blended courses through discourse analysis, with the following objectives:

  • To compare student’s learning experiences in the traditional and blended learning formats, and in the MOOC and blended courses;

  • To evaluate the effectiveness of the different online learning tools and teaching methods implemented in our courses (these include formal and explicit presentations such as grammar charts and animated video lessons, as well as components that focus on the functional use of the language, such as podcasts and slice-of-life videos illustrating natural conversations and idioms).

These experiences have given us some useful insights into the development and use of open and free learning materials, and the effect of blended and online courses on student access and campus enrollments. We’ll also share student opinions of the relative value and effectiveness of different learning tools, tempered with our analysis and understanding of why students might prefer one over another.

Our investigations leave us confident that at the very least our campus blended courses have improved access for students, resulting in a higher enrollment percentage of first-year students: this is vital to the health of the program as these students are more likely to continue on at an advanced level. Moreover, we’ve seen improved pedagogy and learning in the blended courses compared to the traditional course format, such as more writing practice conducted at a higher level.

Participants will leave this session with some guidelines for creating and effectively using online materials in different contexts. We also will offer some thoughts for the broader implications of online learning for the liberal arts and humanities in particular, engaging the participants in some brief discussion of where we might all go from here.

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

From Blended to MOOC and Back: Lessons from online language courses in multiple contexts.

Thomas 224

During the past four years, Wellesley College created online materials that function as a complete free textbook for courses on Italian language and culture, which have been offered in the following contexts and formats:

  • as a blended course (featuring fewer class meetings than in the traditional format) taught for 5 terms on the Wellesley campus, and 2 terms at MIT;

  • as a limited enrollment online course (enhanced with online conversation practice with tutors), offered for 3 summers to about 500 Wellesley students and alumnae;

  • as a MOOC, open to the entire world at no cost, with over 50,000 students participating.

We have extensively surveyed the students in all three formats, and formally evaluated some of the blended courses through discourse analysis, with the following objectives:

  • To compare student’s learning experiences in the traditional and blended learning formats, and in the MOOC and blended courses;

  • To evaluate the effectiveness of the different online learning tools and teaching methods implemented in our courses (these include formal and explicit presentations such as grammar charts and animated video lessons, as well as components that focus on the functional use of the language, such as podcasts and slice-of-life videos illustrating natural conversations and idioms).

These experiences have given us some useful insights into the development and use of open and free learning materials, and the effect of blended and online courses on student access and campus enrollments. We’ll also share student opinions of the relative value and effectiveness of different learning tools, tempered with our analysis and understanding of why students might prefer one over another.

Our investigations leave us confident that at the very least our campus blended courses have improved access for students, resulting in a higher enrollment percentage of first-year students: this is vital to the health of the program as these students are more likely to continue on at an advanced level. Moreover, we’ve seen improved pedagogy and learning in the blended courses compared to the traditional course format, such as more writing practice conducted at a higher level.

Participants will leave this session with some guidelines for creating and effectively using online materials in different contexts. We also will offer some thoughts for the broader implications of online learning for the liberal arts and humanities in particular, engaging the participants in some brief discussion of where we might all go from here.