Tampere University of Technology (FINLAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN17 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 53-59
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.1014
Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Nowadays, it is becoming more and more common practice for universities to arrange education for students using massive open online courses (MOOCs). However, the expenses of developing a MOOC are quite high, and therefore small units may not have enough resources to implement high quality online courses of their own. For that reason, utilizing other universities’ MOOCs presents a viable option. However, the implementation of a third-party MOOC is not straightforward, as it may cause major changes in teaching processes [1]. Based on a case study carried out in autumn 2016, this paper discusses what should be taken into account when deploying a third-party MOOC on a programming course. There are three questions to answer: 1) How did the teaching process change after implementing the MOOC? 2) How did the change affect the workload concerning students and teacher alike? 3) How did the students experience the new way of implementing the course?

The context of our study was a six-credit programming course for 80 students. We used the programming MOOC of the University of Helsinki [2,3]. The material of the MOOC is intended for study during a seven-week period. However, we doubled the time frame because of the high number of part-time students. The implementation of the course included five contact hours every week when the instructor was present in the classroom guiding students in their exercises. With the exception of the one-hour course introduction, no formal lectures were organized. After the course, the programming course examination was arranged using an electronic exam [4].

After the course implementation, feedback was gathered from the students using a questionnaire and by interviewing a number of them. The analysis of the survey data showed that the students had very positive attitudes to the new way of organizing the course using a MOOC. The interviews revealed that the students had established a Facebook group to collaborate on the exercises of the course. The change in the instructor´s total workload was not very significant, but there were major changes in the types of tasks involved. Automated tests were attached to the programming exercises of the MOOC and using them required a significant amount of briefing. In addition, overall guidance by email was given much more than on previous course implementations.

The main outcome of this study is the successful practice of utilizing third-party MOOCs in programming education. The results encouraged us to continue our experiments with third-party MOOCs on our courses. Based on this case study, we expect that by utilizing MOOCs it will be possible to decrease human resources required for courses while introducing new creative ways to arrange high-level education for students.

[1] P. Linna, H. Keto and T. Mäkinen, Towards blended learning: A case study. Proceedings of the 38th International Convention MIPRO, pp. 685–689. 2015.
[2] A. Vihavainen, M. Luukkainen and J. Kurhila, Multi-faceted support for MOOC in programming. In the Proceedings of the 13th Annual Conference on Information Technology Education - SIGITE ’12, Vol. 68, p. 171. ACM Press. 2012
[3] Ohjelmoinnin MOOC. (Object oriented programming with Java), University of Helsinki, MOOC In Finnish,, accessed 29th March 2017.
[4] M. Saari and T. Mäkinen, Utilizing Electronic Exams in Programming Courses: A Case Study. In EDULEARN16 Proceedings, pp. 7155–7160. 2016.
Mooc, programming education, student feedback, case study.