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Canadian Initiative for Distance Education Research - CIDER

Canadian Initiative for Distance Education Research - CIDER

Owner: Terry Anderson

Group members: 35


The Canadian Initiative for Distance Education Research (CIDER) is a research initiative of the Centre for Distance Education, Canada's largest graduate and professional distance education programming provider, at Athabasca University, Canada's Open University.

CIDER sponsors a variety of professional development activities designed to increase the quantity and quality of distance education research. CIDER's professional development scope is broad, ranging from learning and teaching application, issues of finance and access, the strategic use of technology in distance education settings, and other factors that influence distance education in Canada.

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Latest session: Oct 1 2014

Next session: Nov 5 2014

We investigated how high school students taking a university preparatory economics course would engage with the learning and assessment components of a Behavioural Economics MOOC that was integrated into their school-based course. Students were divided into two groups, MOOC-only, with no teacher support, and blended-mode, with weekly tutorials. MOOC only students scored slightly lower on a teacher designed knowledge test but scored slightly higher in a MOOC test. Although the MOOC-only students watched more unique videos, the blended-mode students stayed more on-track with the MOOC. The blended-mode students showed more persistence in retaking quizzes, yet they scored lower than the MOOC-only students.
Mon, 06 Oct 2014

One notable ‘disruptive’ impact of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has been an increased public discussion of online education. While much debate over the potential and challenges of MOOCs has taken place online confined largely to niche communities of practitioners and advocates, the rise of corporate ‘xMOOC’ ventures such as Coursera, edX and Udacity has prompted popular mass media interest at levels not seen with previous educational innovations. This article addresses this important societal outcome of the recent emergence of MOOCs as an educational form by examining the popular discursive construction of MOOCs over the past 24 months within mainstream news media sources in United States, Australia and the UK. In particular, we provide a critical account of what has been an important phase in the history of educational technology—detailing a period when popular discussion of MOOCs has far outweighed actual use/participation. We argue that a critical analysis of MOOC discourse throughout the past two years highlights broader societal struggles over education and digital technology—capturing a significant moment before these debates subside with the anticipated normalization and assimilation of MOOCs into educational practice. This analysis also sheds light on the influences underpinning how many people perceive MOOCs thereby leading to a better understanding of acceptance/adoption and rejection/resistance amongst various professional and popular publics.

Mon, 06 Oct 2014

A recent phenomenon in the MOOC space has been the development of courses tailored to educators serving in K-12 settings. MOOCs, particularly as a form of educator professional development, face a number of challenges. Academics, as well as pundits from traditional and new media, have raised a number of concerns about MOOCs, including the lack of instructional and social supports. It is an assumption of this study that challenges arising form this problem of scale can be addressed by leveraging these massive numbers to develop robust online learning communities. This mixed-methods case study addresses critical gaps in the literature and issues of peer support in MOOCs through an examination of the characteristics, mechanisms, and outcomes of peer networks. Findings from this study demonstrate that even with technology as basic as a discussion forum, MOOCs can be leveraged to foster these networks and facilitate peer-supported learning. Although this study was limited to two unique cases along the wide spectrum of MOOCs, the methods applied provide other researchers with an approach for better understanding the dynamic process of peer supported learning in MOOCs.

Mon, 06 Oct 2014
The advent of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has created opportunities for learning that are clearly in high demand, but the direction in which MOOCs should evolve to best meet the interests and needs of learners is less apparent. Motivated by our interest in whether there are potential and purpose for archived MOOCs to be used as learning resources beyond and between instructor-led live-sessions, we examined the use of a statistics MOOC and a computer science MOOC, both of which were made available as archived-courses after a live-session and for which enrolment continued to grow while archived. Using data collected from surveys of learner demographics and intent, the course database of major learner activity, and the detailed clickstream of all learner actions, we compared the demographics, intent, and behaviour of live- and archived-learners. We found that archived-learners were interested in the live-MOOC and that their patterns of use of course materials, such as the number and sequence of videos they watched, the number of assessments they completed, their demonstration of self-regulatory behaviour, and their rate of participation in the discussion forums, were similar to the live-learners. In addition, we found evidence of learners drawing on an archived-MOOC for use as reference material. Anticipated areas of impact of this work include implications for the future development of MOOCs as resources for self-study and professional development, and in support of learner success in other courses.
Mon, 06 Oct 2014

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