One of the articles that caught my attention on Zite this morning was ‘Four Good Reasons Why Students Need Instructor Feedback in Online Courses‘ by Debbie Morrison. In her post Debbie spells out why she doesn’t think MOOCs cut it for students entering higher education straight from school and particularly in relation to feedback. This got me thinking about the National Student Survey and the fact that feedback is the criteria that universities typically score the lowest on. If there was an NSS equivalent for MOOCs how well would Coursera, edX and Udacity score on feedback?
The 2012 NSS did show some improvement in the assessment and feedback category but there is still room for improvement. Whilst students welcome and value feedback from their peers what they really want is feedback from their teachers. On MOOCs with thousands of students it’s pretty much impossible to provide feedback to individual students and so Debbie questions their role and suitability for school leavers entering higher education. She writes:
College students benefit greatly from instructor feedback, including when it’s provided in a small online learning community where interaction exists between students and instructor and students and students. In a Massive Open Online Course, [or even a F2F class of 100+ students] it’s impossible to provide the required learning conditions for this type of interaction. It worries me that colleges and universities appear to be moving towards the MOOC model for delivering some or all courses (as in the case of SUNY or California’s public higher education institutions); courses that don’t provide for a student-to-instructor ratio that supports personalized learning. The MOOC model cannot provide the type of learning experiences needed for freshman or junior college students that is required for courses that include writing composition, communications, literature analysis, and other humanities courses. One could even argue that this is the case for some courses in math and sciences. Though I am an advocate of MOOCs, since they provide an excellent learning experience in numerous circumstances, the model which relies on the premise of massive, is not an effective one for every learner in every learning situation.
On xMOOCs it’s peer feedback that plays an important part of the learning dialogue and the posts that I’ve written on my blog whilst participating in the #h817open MOOC have generated comments here and discussion on the MOOC G+ community or on Twitter, which have made me think further. This has all been good and helpful, however somewhat ironically, my last blog post on issues with OERs, which I submitted for an open badge didn’t get any comments (maybe it was just too long!). So I received my first open badge (the badges were one of the reasons for doing this MOOC), I felt chuffed but I was also left thinking what did the individual who’d assessed my work and awarded me the badge actually think of what I’d written? An xMOOC is open and it’s free, so I wasn’t expecting feedback, but it did leave me wondering how a typical university student would feel not receiving feedback and reading Debbie Morrison’s post this morning I tend to agree that the lack of individual feedback in MOOCs is an issue. I have a badge on OER understanding but what was it about my evidence that meant I got the badge. What does the badge actually say about my level of understanding. I wonder if we need to have specific details of what’s required to be awarded an open badge to give it more meaning and context?
I’ve been thinking about how we might use open badges in medical education and have some ideas of where I could possibly introduce them in my own work. The experience of getting my first open badge has given me food for thought about making the criteria for a badge explicit and involving some level of feedback. So even though I didn’t get any personal feedback reflecting on this has been a useful learning experience for me.
I’d be interested to know what others, including my fellow #h817open MOOCers think about open badges and feedback.
by Ken Whytock
by Ken Whytock