What is our role as instructors?

July 29th, 2015

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by Geraldine Clarebout – I just came to Maastricht to start a new job as an assistant professor e-learning. I was asked whether I wanted to be involved in a MOOC on problem-based learning. This sounded very interesting! I participated myself in a MOOC-course on ‘life cycle analysis’ and was involved in the development of a MOOC for freshmen at the University of Leuven. So, I was very keen to find out what it would mean to act as an instructor in a MOOC. In addition, this was for me an opportunity to be immediately involved in the concept of problem-based learning. After some try-outs with Lianne Loosveldt and two students (Luuk and Maartje) we were able to reduce the number of bugs, to adjust the assignments so that they were clearer for particpants and to get to know the NovoEd platform better.

When the pilot phase started we were not really sure what to expect, and even though we had not yet the ‘massive’ amount of participants, the way the discussion forum was organized made me realize that this was something which would be very hard to keep track of once we would be up and running. This made me wonder: what is actually the role of an instructor in a MOOC? This question became even more apparant when the first assignments were submitted and we had no clue on what was going on in the group spaces. With the three instructors we discussed what was going on in the MOOC and tried to provide some reflection on this in a google hangout sessions, something new for us all.

While it worked ok, I saw when we were ‘on air’ that we had only one viewer, which I knew was Lianne… (thanks for the support!). There was some relief that the google hangout worked fine, but also some disappointed given the number of viewers…. However, afterwards we got some reactions that people commented on the office I was in as being very ugly (it was my old office :-)), so we knew they did look at the recorded session afterwards! (I made sure to have a different background for the second session…)

Although it was a pilot test with people often knowing already a lot about PBL, we saw that some groups did work very hard on the assignments. We did get reactions that if you do not know anything about PBL this MOOC is hard to complete. Valuable input for a thorough evaluation!

After a google hangout with one of the participants reflecting on the MOOC I think we are now ready to start adapting the MOOC for the real run in October!

And still I am wondering, what is exactly the role of the instructor in this MOOC……

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