MASSIVE OPEN ONLINE COURSES IN HIGHER EDUCATION – PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT IN OPEN LEARNING ARRANGEMENTS
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are currently one of the most prominent trends in the context of technology-enhanced learning. MOOCs are offered online, usually free of charge and open to all interested people regardless of any institutional affiliation. The main focus of the media and professional perception, however, is primarily on the so-called xMOOCs as courses based on video lectures and enriched by self-study materials, tasks, learning tests and discussion boards - a course design similar to classical lectures. In contrast, connectivist MOOCs (cMOOCs) as the initial but less medially regarded approach of MOOCs base on the online activity and the thematical exchange of learners instead of lecturing. Stimulating commentaries and reflection tasks encourage the training of media capabilities as well as self-organization and self-learning skills. The promotion of these key skills by the course format shows that cMOOCs have a particularly large potential especially for higher education. Furthermore, they support the creation of personal knowledge networks that are almost indispensable in the knowledge society of the 21st century. Nevertheless, only a few cMOOCs have been performed so far. Hardly any of them focused on students as the main target group nor were therefore directly related to the higher educational context.
The main reason for this lack of cMOOC experience in higher education might be the fact of many challenges being connected to the implementation of the learning-scenario. This e. g. concerns the curricular integration, the technological and media literacy, the preparation, supervision and motivation of participants and finally the documentation and assessment of learning processes and achievements.
The paper focuses particularly on this last area of learning performance measurement and evaluation as this is a difficult balancing act between openness and (pre-)structuring of learning processes in cMOOCs. On one hand, the context of higher education demands transparent requirements, regular feedback and comprehensible criteria. But on the other hand, connectivist learning is driven by individual learning priorities, subscriber´s self-control and flexible learning objectives.
Background of this paper is a cMOOC, which was developed and implemented within the framework of a teaching-learning project in the summer term 2013 at a total of three universities in Germany (Dresden, Chemnitz, Siegen) and dealt with the topic "Learning 2.0 – Personal learning and knowledge management with social media". Altogether in this nine-week course 122 students took part, of which 73 wanted to earn credit points. Additionally, the event was also open to high school teachers and other interested people. Overall, a number of 242 participants registered themselves for the SOOC13. Performance recording and evaluation was done by using e-portfolios. Leaded by input material, questions and tasks as well as by using own research results or peer feedback participants stepwise developed different artifacts, which they shared on their own social media channels (blog, twitter) with other participants.
This paper based on the results of an evaluation at the start, in-between and finish of the course gives an insight into the experiences of the course facilitators and the assessments of the participants. It also discusses options and opportunities of improvement, which are currently implemented in the second course in the winter term 2013/14.