Unit 4: Video Case Study
Just one more unit to go. Head over to Unit 5 to finish off the course.
In this module we’ll walk through our design and development process in terms of rationale, delivery, and development. Let’s begin.
MOOCs have been known for both their value and simplicity in delivery. The knowledge and prestige of the presenters are impressive and, for the most part, MOOCs, have been delivered in such a way that video is a predominate mode of instruction. As an online course, however, the same e-learning rules that apply to traditional for-credit online courses also apply to MOOCs. This is an area I’ve been working in for 14 years, and so I wanted our MOOC users to benefit from what we learned over that time.
Outside of just some parting knowledge via video, we wanted to utilize instructional design methods and, in particular, Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction that systematically designs the learning process to maximize learning in an asynchronous learning environment.
One of the primary factors of online, or e-learning, that must be established and the lack of protected against is a sense of social engagement between students, which helps protect against the typical isolation a learner feels when learning online, usually by themselves on their personal computing device.
Hearing and seeing the instructors — one technique that is typically used for MOOCs. What we wanted to add were both fun and engaging backgrounds to help maintain the interest of our viewers. We also wanted to keep our videos very short and in digestible chunks.
The next variable we wanted to include in our MOOC was inner activity, which online means one-on-one and one of the most significant aspects of computer-based and online learning.
Following the typical program instruction model, we wanted to make sure there were short review sessions at the end of each module that prompted our users to engage with the material — not really any heavy mental lifting but rather some basic cognitive processing.
The next element we wanted to ensure was present in the MOOC was social communication and student-to-student engagement. Social media and discussion boards again present a natural advantage for online learning environments. While MOOCs present a practically insurmountable challenge in terms of instructor-student interaction because of the large numbers, student-to-student interaction is very much doable and self-driven.
In order to create specific learning communities, we have made the MOOC cohort-driven so that our learners can engage with one another throughout the learning experience and also potentially maintain contact with one another afterward.
The next element we wanted to ensure we role modeled was the very content we are teaching in the MOOC, usability and user-centered design. While we weren’t able to put together the representative sample we would have liked, professional males age 25 to 35, we did have three members of a user group provide feedback along the way to ensure we were one the right track. A focus group followed by interviews helped create a dialog with each user that was very helpful in terms of basic usability issues they encountered.
Last but certainly not least is leveraging the unique qualities of online learning. As an electronic environment we have access to video, audio, interactive quizzes, social media images, etc. We wanted to design the MOOC to embrace all that an online learning environment had to offer that we could afford to bring together.
Robert Gagne articulated one of the most precise and coherent models for learning and instruction through his Theory of Learning, Ideal Conditions of Learning, and Nine Events of Instruction. According to Gagne, there are five major categories of learning: verbal information, intellectual skills, cognitive strategies, motor skills, and attitudes, and that there were nine events of instructions that could be used to create the ideal conditions of learning. Let’s take a quick look using our MOOC as an example.
Web design usability could be classified as either a four of the five learning categories: verbal information, intellectual skills, cognitive strategies, and attitudes.
Gagne’s Event 1 is gaining the attention of a learner, or what is called reception. In the MOOC we do this through the use of color and multimedia and access to these through clear user control.
Event 2 is informing learners of the objective or expectancy. Each module begins with learning goals and objectives, which helps learners to understand what they will be potentially learning.
Event 3 is stimulating recall or retrieval, which we do through drawing examples through real life and also ensuring skills are applied to relevant tasks.
Event 4 is presenting the stimulus or selective perception, which involves use of video, animated text, and images and sound.
Event 5 is providing learning guidance, or semantic encoding, which we do through providing examples and step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish each task plus a lot of learning resources connected to them.
Event 6 is a listening performance or responding, which is done through the review sessions, discussions, and hands-on activities.
Event 7 is providing feedback or reinforcement, which we provide in the review sessions and engagment, student-to-student interactions.
Event 8 is assessing performance or retrieval, which again is done through the review sessions, discussions, and hands-on activities. The advantage of e-learning is that the feedback is immediate.
Event 9 is enhancing retention and transfer, and this is done through the hands-on activities that lead up to developing and usability testing one’s own website as well as sharing with other learners for input and feedback.
As you can see, based on the nine events, we have made an attempt to use the model to ensure we designed the MOOC to enhance learning retention and application. Above all, we wanted learners to have an engaging experience above and beyond just listening to me present information.
This MOOC is an online course. Although I cannot interact with many of you like I would if you were one of my students, we have used Gagne and the principles of instructional design to organize and deliver this MOOC. It has been expensive but the feeling is that the ROI, or return on investment, is well worth it in the end. MOOCs and e-learning environments present instructional designers more opportunities to develop educational systems that engage and effectively deliver information to others. Free is not really free as there is a development cost to anything we do. But at the same time, the branding of the faculty, and organizations that deliver these, may prove to be a new type of educational capital and marketing strategy.
Our final case study will address the future of MOOCs and implications for e-learning in general.