Was It Worth Teaching That MOOC, Professor?

moocWe hear a lot (too much?) about MOOCs these days in higher education. But is it hype or a real educational innovation that will have a meaningful impact on how we teach?

A survey conducted by The Chronicle made an attempt to reach every professor who has taught a MOOC and asked them to answer an online questionnaire. They sent it to 184 professors in late February and 103 of them responded.

You can read about the results online but one result is that nearly half of the professors felt their online courses were as rigorous academically as the versions they taught in the classroom. Asked whether they believe MOOCs "are worth the hype," 79% said yes.

The median number of students per class was 33,000, but about half of the professors who responded were still in the process of teaching their first MOOC, so I wonder if their answers would have been different after the course was completed.

Some numbers that might surprise you - but won't if you have ever taught a course for the first time online...

Typically a professor spent over 100 hours on his MOOC before it even started, by recording online lecture videos and doing other preparation. Others laid that groundwork in a few dozen hours.

Once the course was in session, professors typically spent eight to 10 hours per week on upkeep. Most professors managed not to be inundated with messages from their MOOC students—they typically got five e-mails per week—but it was not unusual for a professor to be drawn into the discussion forums. Participation in those forums varied, but most professors posted at least once or twice per week, and some posted at least once per day.


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