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A MOOC is born

November 13, 2012

I apologize for my one month hiatus from blogging. I’ve got a lot of things I’d like to write about, but it’s likely going to have to wait until Thanksgiving break next week.

But I do want to take a moment to give some huge props to my colleagues at the Georgia Tech Physics Education Research Group, who just received a Gates Foundation grant to develop a Massively Open Online Course in Introductory Mechanics. This course will be launched this spring on Coursera.

Here’s the proposal video the group created :

I am most excited that this course promises to be one of the first (if not the first) MOOC to offer a rich laboratory experience for students, something I think is essential to any science course.

I’m really excited to play a small part in this venture, and I’ll have a lot more to say in the months ahead.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. November 13, 2012 10:10 pm

    I’m super stoked to get to do some research in this new community. I hope I didn’t tick anyone off by including it in my research agenda, though.

  2. Andy "SuperFly" Rundquist permalink
    November 13, 2012 10:38 pm

    I’m excited to be involved too. Mike and I brainstormed a lot about peer reviews of SBG videos. That seems like it could be really interesting.

  3. November 14, 2012 4:57 am

    This looks like it could be pretty awesome. I’ve been dubious that students really learn science from online courses. This one, however, looks like it could work. I may have to try this one out. So far, I’ve started three different MOOCs, but not finished one yet.

  4. November 14, 2012 7:17 am

    Terrific! Great News! I’m fired up about the potential for Coursera and edX to broaden access to knowledge which would otherwise be inaccessible. I’m taking the Coursera Genetics and Evolution course sponsored by Duke this semester. I’m a biologist and 48 year old Mom working PT for the corporate world and home schooling my 2e child. My time, as well as finances, are limited. The format is allowing me to update and refresh my knowledge. I plan to use my refreshed skills to educate others. I’m also learning how the online course world is evolving which is relevant to the work I do in my professional career.

    My son took the CS101 course from Coursera last spring to advance his computer programming skills. I know next to nothing about computer programming so, as his learning guide watching over the pilot test, we both learned from the experience.

    I wish your colleagues the best as they develop the MOOC for Introductory Mechanics. I hope my post will help them see how their work will help lift others — perhaps in unexpected ways.

  5. November 14, 2012 11:42 am

    This sounds exciting, I’m glad you are going to bring your expertise and pedagogy to a wider group of students and (hopefully) educators.

  6. November 15, 2012 12:56 am

    Please, please, please find a way to use the standard PER methods for determining the efficacy of your course (ie. the FCI). I really want to have a comparison between the effectiveness of MOOCs (for those people who manage to complete them) and other mediums of learning.

  7. November 15, 2012 12:43 pm

    A couple of things on the video.

    At 0.11: I am strongly of the belief that although nobody needs to ‘fear’ of physics, they certainly should not *necessarily* be discouraged from avoiding it! Physics is certainly NOT ‘for everyone’. At what point that decision/advice is made/given is a different question, but it ultimately makes perfect sense to ‘avoid’ certain things!

    At 0.47: I’m confused by the correlation that he makes between ‘doing physics’ and ‘inquiry based physics’. He seems to make a definite connection between experiment and inquiry, when they are most definitely NOT the same thing. You can ‘do’ physics without inquiry.

  8. Alexis permalink
    November 16, 2012 8:46 pm

    I was wondering if you knew where I could get some of these “open source” programs he talks about. I would love to do video analysis in my class but I don’t haven ANY resources (or equipment or technology) so if I could find a program students could use with their cell phone, that would be really beneficial to my class.

    • November 16, 2012 8:50 pm

      Sure. The video analysis program that is featured in the video is Tracker Video Analysis, which is free java based and runs on any computer. If you’re looking to do video analysis on cell phones, check out Video Physics for iOS, which is a $2.99 app that works on iOS and does some simple video analysis.

  9. November 18, 2012 12:14 pm

    This looks great! Using video analysis and the programming enviornment will let students still learn about experimental design. Too many simulations (the typical go-to tool for online science teaching) remove that from the control of the teacher and student.

    We recently had a visit from the director of the Online School for Girls, of which our school is a founding member. I’d asked him about the nature of lab courses in this new environment and voiced my concerns about trying to teach science online. I’ve been kicking around some ideas since that meeting, and many of them are reflected in the video. I’ll be watching for this and passing the video on to the OSG director. Good luck!

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