Faculty Speak

My Journey with MOOCs

[This blog post was written about a month back by Professor Vasanthi Srinivasan. Her course Introduction to People Management is live on edX. In this blog, Professor Srinivasan shares her MOOC journey. ]

Yesterday was my last day of video shoot for my MOOC.

It has been a one and a half year journey. Being one of the first few faculty members to sign up, this journey has had its share of joy, excitement, elation, self-doubt, frustration, anger and finally relief.

Behind this journey is a story of a passionate classroom teacher who is technologically challenged and has great aspirations to impact students. Three basic assumptions that I made created the greatest challenge personally.

My Assumptions

  • MOOCS is nothing more than a shoot of my classroom and therefore, whatever I did in the classroom, I could do it in a studio and it will work.
  • I am the faculty who controls the content and delivery and therefore the team will work around my requirements.
  • Effective classroom teaching will automatically mean effective technology enabled teaching.

. As faculty we take for granted our students and the energy they bring in to the class. In a course like this where you are shooting in a studio, how do you create the same experience visualizing the students who are remotely located? Visualization is an art and in my experience it has to be cultivated.

We had very early on made a decision to supplement some key messages through podcast. Podcast gave me the flexibility to not face the camera, yet connect with my learners.

Most of us as faculty are the Heroines or Heroes in our classroom. We occupy Centre stage and while we do flipped classroom, experiential engagement and use other active learning pedagogies, the control rests with us—I am the conductor of my class orchestra.

However, on my course, I discovered that there are several experts who can contribute to my effectiveness online. I may not even be aware of how they are able to conceive my session and would like it to be effective. This is one of my key learning on the course.

Research Associate

My research associate would take my shoot and break them in to modules and come back and ask me “What is the key learning in this module?. One could say that we do this as a teacher in the classroom, yes we do. Most of the time we do this at a session level.

This technically means that we have to check if we are creating an opportunity for the student to have meaningful learning every minute of the hour that they spend on the course. The 6 minutes videos meant that I had to be very clear as to what were the key messages I wanted to convey to my learners.

Instructional Designers

I found that I could be quite blind to these aspects. It is here that a strong research associate and the Instructional design team can be useful. They provide suggestions on what content can be presented effectively in what manner –be it animations, slides, podcast, reading etc. These inputs effectively mean that the course content is yours, but course delivery is co-created.

Camera Team

Apart from this, in the interest of the participant learning, the professionals behind the camera also provided suggestions on how to be impactful. They let you know that your voice is lacking the impact, or that you are not sounding authentic. At the beginning, these suggestions disturbed the way I had conceived my session..… However, once I understood that each one of these experts were looking at creating a high impact finally product, a synchronicity set in.

Looking at the year-long journey, what are my key takeaways?

  • What works in a classroom, does not always work in a MOOC.
  • The ability to visualize, how to deliver to different kinds of learners, differing styles of and learning, is something that one is very cognizant of while creating MOOCs as compared to the classroom.
  • Several people contribute to teaching effectiveness for a MOOC.
  • Instructional designers are experts for blended delivery in higher education. The faculty needs to be willing to listen to inputs provided by others.

My MOOC starts next week. Do join me at https://www.edx.org/course/introduction-people-management-iimbx-hr101x.

1 thought on “My Journey with MOOCs”

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