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Whose benefiting from MOOCs?

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This fascinating article in the Harvard Business Review, with Daphne Koller contributing. Anyone on the Master of Arts Open and Distance Education will have followed Daphne Koller from the days of the earliest MOOCs that she created.

Whose benefitting from MOOCs?

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T is for TED lectures

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 30 May 2014, 07:31

 Professor Melissa Terras - Digital Humanities at UCL



Technology Transfer

TED Lectures

Tutor Marked Assignment



Timeline Apps

Technorati - E-magazine


To mind the best TED lectures I've see that are education, and especially e-learning related, were given by Daphne Koller (on MOOCs), Ken Robinson (on education) and Randy Pausch (on fulfilling your childhood dreams). 

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K is for Kindle

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  • Kindle

  • David Kolb (Kolb’s learning cycle)

  • Daphne Koller

  • Agnes Kukulska-Hulme

  • Knowledge (exchange, acquisition, workers … )

  • Khan Academy

  • Kerewella

If you have an interest in e-learning you will certainly have heard about the Khan Academy. The narrative is simple, though somehow predictable in the US that an Investment Banker makes a video explain 'math' to his nephew that is so successful that it goes viral, he quits his job and with $1m from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation goes on to create thousands of video clips that now occupy many classrooms across North America. This supposedly heralds the 'flipped classroom' where pupils do their video and interactive learning (now) as homework and spend one to one time with teachers in class. The reality is a significant 'blend' of the technology-enhanced learning and the classroom with teacher as expert. Not revolution, just evolution. Less significant than is made out - in any case, we've had BBC Bitesize for at least 14 years: I wrote a review of the online education market in 2001 - in Great Britain there is no market as the BBC fills it.

I go for Kindle with my K. It was the first 'gadget' I bought to support my online learning with the OU some three years ago. I didn't have a smart phone, or even a laptop at the time, and certainly no iPad. I depend so much on my Kindle that I know have two - traditional and the new paperwhite that arrived yesterday. I love knowing how many minutes it will take me to finish a chapter; this timing adjusts as my reading speed and habits are logged. I race through books in this way. I like to be carried by the content and not frankly know that as a hardback such a 385+ publication may look daunting. I just read. Reading will in all likelihood be my 'R' too - it remains, to my mind, the fastest and most efficient way to transfer knowledge from an expert to a student. Faster and more effective than a video, than a podcast or some sluggish, quickly dated interactive, gamified version of the text. Just find someone who knows their subject well and can write.

I attend the inaugral lecture of Prof. Agnes KH. If you wonder if e-learning is a transient term (it is), then I believe 'm-learning' has already come and gone. My desktop is my ipad, is my iPhone, is my laptop ... is someone else's device. All are my 'university in my pocket'. Mobility and portability my transcend into wearability, but in the learning context it is just that - learning. I wrote as much in a review of a KH book on Amazon and got flamed. I gave up and removed my review; someone took it personally.

Daphne Koller gives an impressive TED lecture of MOOCs. Catch the MOOC thing while there's a buzz - it will be gone before you've noticed otherwise. Once again, a complex term that can only change into something better and will in any case rapidly dissolve into the way we learn online in a multitude of ways.



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What are you like?!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Nov 2013, 14:38

I just watched Daphne Koller's TED lecture on the necessity and value of students marking their own work. (for the fifth time!)

Whilst there will always be one or two who cheat or those who are plagiarists, the results from 'Big Data' on open learning courses indicate that it can be a highly effective way forward on many counts.

1) it permits grading where you have 1,000 or 10,000 students that would otherwise be very expensive, cumbersome and time consuming

2) as a student you learn from the assessment process - of your work and that of others

3) student assessment of other's work is close to that of tutors though it tends to be a little more harsh

4) student assessment of their own work is even closer to the grade their tutor would have given with exceptions at opposite ends of the scale - poor students give themselves too high a grade and top students mark themselves down.


a) it works

b) it's necessary if learning reach is to be vastly extended

c) isn't human nature a wonderful thing?! It makes me smile. There's an expression, is it Cockney? Where one person says to another 'what are you like?'


'What are we like?' indeed!

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Daphne Koller: The University has flipped and The OU should have been there first

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014, 14:27

Fig. 1. Daphne Koller TED lecture on YouTube

Daphne Koller is a professor of Computer Science at Stanford University and a Third generation PhD. In this insightful talk we learn how e-learning is changing learning opportunities globally. Scale is at the heart of it.

A Machine Learning Class at Stanford with an undergraduate enrolment of some 400 when put online is followed by 100,000. And the lessons from scale led to the creation of Coursera where anyone can take the world’s top classes for free - delivered by the best instructors from the best universities.

  • Personalised curriculum
  • A coherent concept in 8 – 10 minutes
  • Students can traverse the content in different ways background, skills or interest.
  • Support or enrichment.

Practising with the material is important.

Video is interrupted to pose questions. Students are expected to engage.

  • Multiple choice
  • Short answer questions
  • Grade math and models

To be told when you are right or wrong is essential to student learning.

How do you grade 100,000 students?

Peer grading is a surprisingly successful strategy (Sadler & Good, 2006) .

  • Teacher and student grades extraordinarily similar, even self-grades.
  • And the student learns from the experience.

And learning is socialised

  • Around each of our courses a community of students has formed.
  • Some meet online, others locally.
  • Students respond to each other’s queries.

‘The median question to response time was 22 minutes because somewhere around the globe there was someone awake’. (Koller, 2012)

From 0:14:11

‘There are some tremendous opportunities to be had from this kind of framework’.

‘First it has the potential of giving us a completely unprecedented look into understanding human learning because the data that we can collect here is unique. You can collect every click, every homework submission and every form post from tens of thousands of students so you can turn the study if human learning from the hypothesis driven mode to the data driven on transformation that for example has revolutionized biology.

Fig. 2. Correcting misconceptions and poor learning paths


You can use the data to understand fundamental questions like what good learning strategies are versus ones that are not and in the context of particular courses you can ask questions like what are some of the misconceptions that are more common and how can we help fix that. 2000 students give the same wrong answer ... produce a targeted error message to give personalized feedback.

Fig. 3. Benjamin Bloom (1984) , 2 Sigma problem.

Lecture, mastery based approach, taught one on one with a tutor. individual gives you 2 sigma improvement 50/50 Individual 98% above average But cannot afford to provide every student with an individual tutor. Mastery will grade multiple times and show you the same video over and over without getting bored.

How can we push towards the 2 Sigma curve.

‘The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting. From Ian Kidd's translation of Essays’. Plutarch

0:18:50 More time required igniting their creativity, their imagination and their problem solving skills by talking with them. We do that by active learning in the classroom.

Performance improves by every metric:

  • attendance
  • engagement
  • standardized tests

It would do three things:

  • Establish education as an absolute fundamental human right.
  • Enable lifelong learning
  • A wave of innovation


Guskey, TR 2007, 'Closing Achievement Gaps: Revisiting Benjamin S. Bloom's "Learning for Mastery"', Journal Of Advanced Academics, 19, 1, pp. 8-31, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 17 February 2013.


Bloom, BS 1984, 'The 2 Sigma Problem: The Search for Methods of Group Instruction as Effective as One-to-One Tutoring',Educational Researcher, 6, p. 4, JSTOR Arts & Sciences IV, EBSCOhost, viewed 17 February 2013.

Koller, D (2012) Ted Lecture Daphne Koller: What we're learning from online education (accessed 17 Feb 2013 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=U6FvJ6jMGHU )

Sadler, P, & Good, E 2006, 'The Impact of Self- and Peer-Grading on Student Learning', Educational Assessment, 11, 1, pp. 1-31, ERIC, EBSCOhost, viewed 17 February 2013.

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