Tools to Enable the Design and Reuse of MOOC Materials

Brandon Muramatsu, Jeffrey Merriman, Cole Shaw

The rush to develop MOOCs has led faculty and course development teams to move quickly to produce the course’s materials. In many cases the only instantiation of the course is in a specific MOOC platform. If we examine the contents of each MOOC we tend to find discrete elements that have a potential to be used elsewhere. However, as faculty and course development teams move from the first offering to subsequent offerings, and as faculty move to use MOOCs more broadly in their residential teaching, they are faced with the question of how, exactly, will they be able to reuse course materials if they are integrally tied to the offering? Will it be the whole MOOC? What affordances do the platforms and development processes have for using individual elements might be video snippets, or text content or formative assessments elsewhere?

The MIT Office of Digital Learning, in collaboration with our faculty, have been developing a set of tools to help manage the granularity of learning activities available on MOOC platforms, such as edX. These tools focus on learning outcomes/learning objectives/individual concepts and their relationships with content and assessments; they help create a growing assessment bank, along with the ability to use assessments outside of a single platform; and they enable pre-production of new courses. These tools focus on the individual components that comprise a course—and begin to move the conversation from the course as the end state to one in which individual, instructionally sound learning activities are the focus.

In particular we would like the opportunity to share our work on:
• The MIT Core Concept Catalog (MC3, http://mc3.mit.edu/): The core concept catalog
anchors much of the work—it provides an infrastructure allowing faculty and instructional designers describe the “core concepts” in a course. These “core concepts” are ideally clearly defined learning outcomes that are clearly measurable. Faculty can use tools we’re developing to describe their courses in terms of these concept banks, and we can present novel navigation structures based on these concept banks within courses and learning experiences.
• Applications of MC3 such as the Video Concept Browser (VCB, http://vcb.mit.edu/ requires a login). VCB was originally designed to allow faculty to design a concept map, associate portions of traditional lecture videos with those concepts, and enable students to watch the video by concept instead of by lecture date. More recently, we’ve been using VCB to create the concept maps and as a pre-production tool when moving from a traditional course to a MOOC.
• Embedded Assessment and Assessment banks: One of the most intriguing aspects of MOOCs is the potential for nearly limitless practice and formative assessment. As MOOCs continue to develop, this collection of assessment items continues to grow in size and potential but they are oftentimes locked into the course and platform in which they are offered. We are building tools to extract assessment items from MOOC course materials1 manage them, as well as reuse them in any web-accessible content.

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