The Online Revolution: Education for Everyone [Webinar]

 Webinar report: The Online Revolution – Education for Everyone

Andrew Ng Coursera/Stanford

One of the advantages of the online revolution is that it makes it comparatively easy to follow presentations elsewhere, in this case an ACM presentation on the development of MOOCs by Andrew Ng, one of the founders of Coursera.

I won’t summarise the whole presentation – there’s a copy online, I don’t know if you have to be an ACM member to view it, but I’m sure it would be possible to negotiate access.

So rather than summarise the presentation I’ll extract what to me are the key points


  • Business and computer science courses predominate, but singular most popular course is one on social psychology
  • India and China lead signups but engagement is global
  • Coursera has put significant work into infrastructure to improve content delivery to China, plus localisation of introductory material
  • Many students already have a significant qualification, MOOC’s appear to provide an opportunity for ongoing development rather than substituting for conventional study
    • implies many students already have learned the habits of study

Apps and access

  • providing Android and iOS apps for tablet computers have allowed student in areas with poor internet access to access and download content to then work offline
    • Android app is extremely well used in China
  • Poorest and most disadvantaged student usually face most difficulties in gaining internet access (cf development on linux based internet access programs in Latin America)

Credentials and completion

  • most students if they complete the first two weeks complete the course
  • students who register (and pay) for a completion certificate usually complete the course
  • considerable work goes in to make sure that the student submitting work is the same person as the registered student
  • credentials increasingly accepted by recruiters as evidence of ongoing personal development
  • suspicion that some of the non-completers who follow significant part of course are either using it as a substitute for background reading or as an experiment to see if a particular subject area is for them

Flipped classroom and MOOC’s

  • Flipped classroom – idea that classroom/lecture time used for discussion and experimentation and students review course material in their own time
    • Reverse of C19 model of lecture delivery and work at home
    • C19 model result of the technologies of the time
  • Flipped versus MOOCs model sterile debate – MOOC material can be successfully reused in flipped model (cf re use of OU material by traditional universities in the UK, or exchanging online material to allow provision of courses where otherwise not possible)


About dgm

Former IT professional, previously a digital archiving and repository person, ex research psychologist, blogger, twitterer, and amateur classical medieval and nineteenth century historian ...
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