Six weeks after Massive Open Online Courses launched at University of Wisconsin, 37,000 people have enrolled in “Video Games and Learning,” UW curriculum and institution associate professor Constance Steinkuehler said at a roundtable discussion Thursday.
UW started a partnership with online course system Coursera to offer online courses worldwide, Clare Huhn, the Senior Policy and Planning Analyst of the Provost’s office, said. UW will offer four courses in total, two of which have already begun, she said.
Steinkuehler said while the class attracted many participants from around the world, not all participants finish the course. She said MOOCs calculate the number of hits of each section and many people choose to only watch the videos. Currently, only 3,000 out of the enrolled 37,000 have finished the course, she said.
The Office of the Provost has sent out demographic survey to participants all around the world, which asks questions about age, gender, education level, employment situation and language ability, Huhn said. Around 15 percent of the participants took the survey and the results indicate the participants in the course are generally older than undergraduate students on campus, she said.
The office has also tracked the IP address of users from all over the world, Huhn said. She said the majority of the users are from North America, but there has been a changing number of participants from the rest of the world. Israel had the second largest number of users in the first week, but the number of Indian and European users has largely increased since the eighth week, she said.
The diversity brings both dynamics and challenges to MOOCs, Huhn said. According to the demographic survey, only 51 percent of participants in the course are native English speakers, which makes teaching more complex, she said. Huhn said she thought this was a challenge for instructors to interact with students.
Steinkuehler said she believes MOOCs also provide learning opportunities for people who are not able to attend classes at UW. Popular classes like “Video Games and Learning” fill up very quickly every semester and there is always strong demand for them, she said. The pilot MOOCs try to ease the problem by opening the class through the Internet, she said.
The course is composed of different sections such as videos and assignments and quizzes, Steinkuehler said. Participants can reinforce knowledge by taking the exercise after watching the videos, she said.
“Our goal is really to create a new generation of educational media,” Steinkuehler said.
Steinkuehler said she noticed “a big feedback loop” in online teaching and that there was a lack of communication between students and instructors. Even in large lectures, Steinkuehler said she receives feedback from students and is able to adapt her teaching accordingly.
“If we can close up the feedback loop in someway, which means I am having engagement with 40,000 online people, it could be infinitely helpful – even it’s just a video,” Steinkuehler said.