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MOOCs in Engineering Education – First practical experiences from two MOOCs

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Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a phenomenon of these days. Therefore it seems just a consequent step to carry out research studies how MOOCs can be integrated best in our daily life. This work aims to describe first experiences from the implementation of two MOOCs on a new developed platform. Both courses are related to engineering education: one to physics and one to mechanics. First the concept as well as the development and then also the evaluation is pointed out. It can be concluded that there is potential for educational institutions, but also barriers which must be taken into account.
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Draft originally published in: Ebner, M., Kopp, M., Scerbakov, A., Neuböck, K. (2016) MOOCs in Engineering Education: First Practical
Experiences from two MOOCs. In: Handbook of Research on Applied E-Learning in Engineering and Architecture Education. Fonseca, D.,
Redondo, E. (Eds.). pp. 224-236. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-8803-2
MOOCs in Engineering Education
First practical experiences from two MOOCs
Martin Ebner
Social Learning, Graz University of Technology, Austria
Michael Kopp
Academy of New Media and Knowledge Transfer, University of Graz, Austria
Alexei Scerbakov
Social Learning, Graz University of Technology, Austria
Kristina Neuböck
Academy of New Media and Knowledge Transfer, University of Graz, Austria
ABSTRACT
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a phenomenon of these days. Therefore it seems just a
consequent step to carry out research studies how MOOCs can be integrated best in our daily life. This
work aims to describe first experiences from the implementation of two MOOCs on a new developed
platform. Both courses are related to engineering education: one to physics and one to mechanics. First
the concept as well as the development and then also the evaluation is pointed out. It can be concluded
that there is potential for educational institutions, but also barriers which must be taken into account.
Keywords: iMooX, physics, mechanic, practical experiences, interactive learning object, concept phase,
development phase, implementation phase
INTRODUCTION
Since the introduction of the World Wide Web the way we deal with learning and teaching
content has changed arbitrarily. In the very first beginning back in the early 2000 so called Web
Based Trainings and Learning Managements Systems (Helic et al, 2004) popped up with the idea
to deliver educational content to the learners via a new distribution channel (Maurer, 1996).
Students as well as teachers were able to download digital content and to communicate using
different possibilities as discussion forums or chats. Some years later the term Web 2.0 described
a new way how users deal with the WWW (O’Reilly, 2006). Weblogs, Wikis or even Social
Networks allow us to interact with online content or other people directly. Stephen Downes
(Downes, 2005) introduced E-Learning 2.0, describing the use of Web 2.0 tools for teaching and
learning (Ebner, 2007). Since then the use of Weblogs (Farmer & Bartlett-Bragg, 2005), Wikis
(Augar et al, 2004), Podcasts (Towned, 2005) and Social Media (Ebner, 2013) in education
became quite popular. Nowadays also the increase of mobile devices and fast (mobile) Internet
access allows working with learning content nearly anytime and anywhere (Ally, 2007). Finally
the access to digital learning content is getting more and more easier based on so called Open
Educational Resources (Schaffert, 2010) as defined by the UNESCO (UNESCO & COL, 2011)
in 2002.
Draft originally published in: Ebner, M., Kopp, M., Scerbakov, A., Neuböck, K. (2016) MOOCs in Engineering Education: First Practical
Experiences from two MOOCs. In: Handbook of Research on Applied E-Learning in Engineering and Architecture Education. Fonseca, D.,
Redondo, E. (Eds.). pp. 224-236. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-8803-2
Bearing in mind all these steps it becomes obvious that the connection of learners interested in a
specific learning content might be from special interest. Siemens (2005) called this the idea of
connectivism: A group of learners learn through online discussions and by using their personal
learning environments in manifold ways. It follows the idea on the one side that learning and
teaching situations occur through the connection of people and that on the other side the
distribution of learning content is done from different sources (e.g. Weblogs of students).
Following consequently this approach Siemens and his colleagues started a first online course in
2008 on trends and possibilities of learning with the Internet (McAulley et al, 2010). Due to the
fact that more than thousand students attended the course, it was called a Massive Open Online
Course. “Massive” because of the high number of students and “Open” because of his open
nature – anyone can attend and any learning content is free available and useable. Just a couple
of years later very famous universities like Stanford, Harvard or MIT attracted thousands of
learners all over the world with their MOOCs, too (Carson & Schmidt, 2012). But there is an
important difference between Siemen’s course and such of these universities. As mentioned
above Siemens based his idea on the learning approach of connectivism by connecting people
and their personal tools. In contrast the courses of the universities offer an own developed
platform with courses on them for the public. Nowadays we call courses according to Siemen’s
idea cMOOCs (“connectivism”) and the others xMOOCs (“extended”).
cMOOC
xMOOC
Learning Theory
Connectivism
Behaviorism
Learning Content
Emerging, teacher offers topic
and students bring in
Structured, brought in by a
lecturer
Communication
Different possibilities (social
media, video conferencing)
Discussion forum (often not
moderated)
Learning Outcome
Completely open, highly self-
regulated
Self-Assessment, based on
curriculum
Role of Teacher
Coach, facilitator
Instructor
Table 1 Difference between cMOOCs and xMOOCs
Table 1 points out the main differences between these two possibilities. Of course in practice the
borders are not so explicit – for example an xMOOC has not to follow exclusively the
behaviorism learning theory, there are also examples for a constructivist learning approach
(Kukharenko, 2013). It must be seen as a first rough classification.
When a closer look is done it becomes quite clear, that for a traditional university with more a
less typical face-to-face lectures a so called xMOOC fits more to their today’s role. An xMOOC
can be simplified described as a free accessible lecture done online. Due to the fact that the first
xMOOCs attracted more than 100.000 students the term MOOC became very popular and many
universities jumped onto it. Today there is a debate if such MOOCs are able to change
universities’ roles or if they even revolutionize Higher Education.
Based on those developments the University of Graz and Graz University of Technology started
a project on developing a MOOC-platform in September 2013. The focus is strongly related to
offer xMOOCs because of the low budget (providing cMOOCs need much more effort from
teachers and produce high personnel costs). Additionally it must be mentioned that providing an
information system does not automatically lead to a perfect online course. Therefore further
research studies were started in parallel to guide lecturers through their content development as
well as their online lecturing. For example previous research (Khalil & Ebner, 2013a) pointed
Draft originally published in: Ebner, M., Kopp, M., Scerbakov, A., Neuböck, K. (2016) MOOCs in Engineering Education: First Practical
Experiences from two MOOCs. In: Handbook of Research on Applied E-Learning in Engineering and Architecture Education. Fonseca, D.,
Redondo, E. (Eds.). pp. 224-236. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-8803-2
out the lack of interaction during such courses, which leads to dissatisfaction on the learners’
side (Khalil & Ebner, 2013b).
In spring 2014 two different MOOCS with a special focus on engineering education have been
done: One in the field of physics and one in the field of mechanics. Both MOOCs have been
visited from interested learners all over the German speaking area. In this publication we would
like to address to following research questions:
How can a MOOC for engineering education look like?
Which structure has that MOOC to follow?
Who is attending such a MOOC and what are the experiences of the learner?
RESEARCH DESIGN
This research study follows strongly the description of a case study. A case study is traditionally
associated with process evaluation (Yin, 2011) and explores a bounded unit (Hill & Millar, 2015)
in order to achieve a rich description of certain perspective (Torrance, 2005) as well as a single
case (Stake, 1995). Therefore we describe our approach how we implemented it and describe
first experiences from a provider’s perspective as well as some first evaluation results from
learners. The research study is descriptive but should help other MOOC providers to bring their
content to broaden public. Of course our study is strongly related to engineering education, for
other disciplines the approach might differ arbitrarily.
XMOOC – THE CORE ELEMENTS
Due to the fact that our case study is about two xMOOCs in the field of engineering education,
cMOOCs will not be in the focus of our research study. As mentioned in the introduction there is
an arbitrarily difference between these MOOC types.
According to the literature (Conole, 2013) (Wedekind, 2013) a typical xMOOC consists of the
following core elements:
course structure with learning targets,
video lectures (lecture recordings or video productions),
additional learning content according to the video lectures
asynchronous communication possibilities (e.g. discussion forums)
self-assessments according to the video lectures
certificates for successful completion of the course
information system that provides all these contents
Mostly a xMOOC is offered over a longer period of time between 6 and 10 weeks (Shaples,
2012) and the learning content is didactically divided into smaller learning packages. The main
content is offered by video using different form and styles (for example screencasts, interviews,
…). Each single course provides a clear start and end date (Lipson, 2013).
There are lots of different challenges during and beforehand the implementation of xMOOCs
depending on different stakeholders’ perspectives as addressed by Kopp et al. (2014), but most
often discussed is the low retention rate or vice versa the high drop our rate (Meyer, 2012)
(Jordan, 2013) as well as the lack of interaction (Khalil & Ebner, 2013a). Both issues are directly
related to the huge amount of participants and are not unknown in the field of mass teaching in
today’s face-to-face universities.
MOOC PLATFORM
Draft originally published in: Ebner, M., Kopp, M., Scerbakov, A., Neuböck, K. (2016) MOOCs in Engineering Education: First Practical
Experiences from two MOOCs. In: Handbook of Research on Applied E-Learning in Engineering and Architecture Education. Fonseca, D.,
Redondo, E. (Eds.). pp. 224-236. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-8803-2
Before starting to think about the general concept of a MOOC, some technological aspects have
to be addressed. First of all the question on which platform the content will be offered. In the
case of xMOOCs there would be for example the possibility to use the huge platforms provided
by MIT, Harvard or Standford, called Udacitiy, edX and Coursera. On the one hand offering
courses there would maybe attract many learners worldwide. On the other hand our public
foundation clearly stated to support only MOOCs in German which are not really supported by
those platforms. Therefore it was decided to start our own platform, called iMooX. Following
consequently the idea to bring open online courses to a public audience in the sense of Siemens
(2005) this must be done also by ourselves (all other platforms restricted the access to course
material after the end of the course for example). Furthermore we also proposed that the idea is
not only to offer courses for academia, but also for a broader target group. Especially school
children as well as elderly people were – and still are - predefined target groups. The project was
initiated by the University of Graz and Graz University of Technology. Due to the fact that both
are well-known representatives of Open Educational Resources (OER) in Austria, they see
MOOCs just as a further step towards Open Education (McAuley et al, 2010). So from the very
beginning of the project it was defined that each course offered by iMooX must be offered as
OER using standard creative commons licenses. Which kind of license each course material
follows can be defined by the teacher or the appropriate institution.
Concerning technical issues of the platform a so-called already existing Learning Management
System (LMS) has been taken (Dietinger & Maurer, 1998) and rearranged. The rearrangement is
on the one side a redesign due to the fact that a typical LMS uses a very old graphical interface
and style concepts. Bearing in mind the new target group (children and eldery people) a redesign
was also necessary to overcome usability issues. Nowadays a typical LMS provides a high
number of different functionalities, which leads to users’ frustration. Especially if dealing with
children or no Internet power users, the interface must be as simple as possible. Finally the core
elements of an xMOOC must be taken into account: There must be a course description, a course
structure and course content (videos, files, self-assessments) as well as a possibility for
discussions (forum). So from a technical perspective we needed an information system, which is
attractive and simple and is able to serve a high number of users simultaneously.
[Insert picture here]
Fig. 1 Course overview
Fig. 1 points out the final result. On the left side the course content structure with weekly
opened tabs can be seen. In the main part the learning content (videos, files, self-assessment) is
placed. The blue bar allows reading news related to the course, the course description as well as
a download possibility for all offered documents. Finally the discussion forum can be entered or
a post on social media can be done using the appropriate buttons. Each course has to follow
exactly the same structure, which offers learners one familiar interface through the whole
system.
iMooX can be summarized as a small-scale LMS with a simple course viewer and a user
management. A learner can simply register on the web site providing a username and an email
address. Afterwards he/she can choose a number of courses (offered via a course description)
and just register for them.
MOOCS ABOUT PHYSICS AND MECHANICS
Draft originally published in: Ebner, M., Kopp, M., Scerbakov, A., Neuböck, K. (2016) MOOCs in Engineering Education: First Practical
Experiences from two MOOCs. In: Handbook of Research on Applied E-Learning in Engineering and Architecture Education. Fonseca, D.,
Redondo, E. (Eds.). pp. 224-236. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-8803-2
First of all it must be distinguished between the concept phase (“How to make the MOOC?”), the
development phase (“How can the MOOC be done?”) and finally the lecturing phase (“How is
the MOOC running?”). We will describe each phase in detail in the next chapters.
Concept(phase(
The concept phase is maybe the most important and also the most underestimated one.
Only if there is a clear concept all other steps can follow smoothly. Therefore we developed a
checklist which has been published in another research study (Lackner et al., 2014). The list
followed the idea to bring “all elements together and into a structure to provide forthcoming
MOOC experts, administrators, developers as well as teachers a comprehensive checklist and
framework for their daily work with (Massive) Open Online Courses“. The final list is quite long
and not all points are absolutely necessary for each MOOC but on the other side it should cover
all issues that might be considered.
The first category is about the core requirements, mainly about the platform itself, e.g. which one
should be selected and so on. We can directly switch to category 2 as figured out in Table 2.
Very important for lecturing online with a MOOC is to provide small pieces of content divided
into equal parts. For the physic MOOC this was quite simple due to the fact that the content was
a series of experiments done in a huge lecture hall. For the mechanic MOOC we decided to
follow the general lecture structure because the MOOC was primarily done to assist a group of
learners doing a postmaster program at the university in a distance format. All other points of the
category were discussed and considered.
As mentioned above the physic MOOC is a series of live experiments done in a huge lecture hall.
Therefore each experiment was planned and exercised beforehand so that all operations are
going hand in hand.
The mechanic MOOC follows a different concept. Due to the fact that a student of mechanical
engineering has to get an intuitive understanding of structural behavior the education is strongly
based on visualizations. Brohn (1983) expressed it in some few words: “The language of
intuition is visual, just as the language of analysis is abstract and symbolic.” Therefore it is from
high importance to visualize the content in an appropriate way. It is from high importance that
students understand how to begin a drawing or even a calculation. Not only the result is of
interest but also the way to it. This leads to two major decisions about how content should be
available:
1. Calculations and drawings must be comprehensible in the sense that also the way to the
final result is visible.
2. Students must be animated to work with the content. So important content should be
practiced even online.
This conceptual thoughts lead directly to the development phase.
2.
Structure
2.1
Divide the course into equal parts (“course units”)
2.2
Think about a recognizable structure of the different units and design it
2.3
Divide the units into different environments (according to the objectives)
2.4
Organize the activities and assignments so that they are feasible (“time management”)
2.5
Create a preliminary course unit (“socializing”) before starting with content
Table 2 Category 2 of MOOC Checklist (Lackner et al, 2014)
Draft originally published in: Ebner, M., Kopp, M., Scerbakov, A., Neuböck, K. (2016) MOOCs in Engineering Education: First Practical
Experiences from two MOOCs. In: Handbook of Research on Applied E-Learning in Engineering and Architecture Education. Fonseca, D.,
Redondo, E. (Eds.). pp. 224-236. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-8803-2
Development(phase(
Physic'MOOC'
In the concept phase it was pointed out that the physic MOOC should be a series of live
experiments done in a huge lecture hall. The goal is to bring such experiments to a broad
audience because even in schools it would not be possible to reproduce it. The experiments were
done for a large number of students to increase the authenticity (live effect). With the help of
three video cameras (one of them was a high-speed one) each experiment was filmed.
Because of a very careful planning phase a full professor assisted by a research assistant within
three hours did more than 50 experiments. Afterwards the ten best experiments were chosen and
one professional producer cut the final videos. Furthermore additional web resources and written
explanation were carried out as well as a couple of questions for the weekly self-assessment.
Mechanic'MOOC'
Based on the two major postulations – drawings and calculation must be comprehensible;
students have to work with the content – it was decided to carry out two main components for
this course:
1. The main content of the lecture was captured from the screen of the professor. He worked
on a tablet PC using empty powerpoint slides and wrote / drew directly on it. A screen
capturing software (Camtasia) recorded all his activities on the computer screen and an
external microphone recorded his voice. In summary six lessons (each 45 minutes) were
recorded and finally cut by a professional producer.
2. Following the idea to enhance student’s activities so called Interactive Learning Objects
(ILO) were carried out. According to Guttormsen-Schär and Krueger (2000), interactive
simulations can demonstrate the conditions of actions and events in the real world and
support a constructivist learning approach within Technology Enhanced Learning
(Holzinger, 2002a). Therefore a number of interactive objects programmed with java
scripts were developed (Fig. 2).
Finally additional web resources and written documents enhanced the videos and ILOs. For each
week exercises were created. The right solutions were part of the weekly self-assessment.
[Insert picture here]
Fig. 2 Interactive Learning Object “Throw with multiple bounces”
Lecturing(Phase(
All course components were implemented to the platform, divided into weekly equal episodes. In
March 2014 the mechanic MOOC was started and in the beginning of April also the physic one.
Nearly 500 participants registered for the physic MOOC and also more than 350 for the
mechanic course. This numbers are quite high, due to the fact that the language was German and
both courses addressed more or less at least students or adult learners with high math knowledge.
EVALUATION RESULTS
Draft originally published in: Ebner, M., Kopp, M., Scerbakov, A., Neuböck, K. (2016) MOOCs in Engineering Education: First Practical
Experiences from two MOOCs. In: Handbook of Research on Applied E-Learning in Engineering and Architecture Education. Fonseca, D.,
Redondo, E. (Eds.). pp. 224-236. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-8803-2
General(outcomes(
In this chapter we will point out some first results from our evaluation and observation. In the
courses Mechanics and Experimental Physics each participant had to complete a questionnaire at
the beginning as well as at the end of the course to evaluate the iMoox platform and the offered
course. An evaluation form was placed right before the confirmation for participation in the
respective course. In summary 116 learners filled it the first form out (63 for the physic course,
53 for the mechanic course) and 36 finished the course in time (32 for the physic course, 4 for
the mechanic course). This means a completion rate of about 31% on average, which is quite
high according to the data of Jordan (Jordan, 2013). Normally the rate is below 10%. Meyer
(2012) reported that the dropout rates of MOOCs offered by Stanford, MIT and UC Berkley
were 80-95%. For example, only 7% of 50.000 students who enrolled to the Coursera-UC-
Berkeley course in Software Engineering completed the course.
The overall statistics point out that on average 68% of the participants are employed and that
54,5% of all learners hold at least a bachelor degree. 71% of the participants were male, only
29% female. Almost three quarter (73%) of all were located in Austria, only 6% in the German
speaking part of Europe and 21% outside of them (9% non German speaking Europe and 12% in
the rest of the world). More than a half (51 %) of the participants was older than 35 years old,
almost a third was even older than 50 years (31 %). This result shows, that these courses were
mainly interesting for employed men, who were older than 35 years old and who had an
academic degree.
Feedback(according(to(the(platform(
In the evaluation form we asked about the performance of the iMooX platform itself. Due to the
fact that we are dealing with many different kinds of learners the web interface must be intuitive
and easy to use. Fig. 3 points out four answers according to the usage of the platform:
[Insert picture here]
Fig. 3 General feedback about the MOOC platform
It can be stated that most of the users liked the platform (84%). Also the navigation as well as the
structure of the platform meet users’ expectations. Finally the user interface attracted about
three-quarter of all users.
Outcome(concerning(the(content(
We also asked how the content of the courses attracted users and how the content supported them
during their learning activities.
Draft originally published in: Ebner, M., Kopp, M., Scerbakov, A., Neuböck, K. (2016) MOOCs in Engineering Education: First Practical
Experiences from two MOOCs. In: Handbook of Research on Applied E-Learning in Engineering and Architecture Education. Fonseca, D.,
Redondo, E. (Eds.). pp. 224-236. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-8803-2
Fig. 4 displays the result in detail.
Fig. 4 How do you like the provided learning content?
First of all on average 79% of all participants mentioned that they liked the course as such. The
quizzes of the mechanic course got a higher score then the physic course. As mentioned above
this may be due that the quizzes in mechanics are directly related to additional exercises instead
of just repetitions of watchable content. The discussion forum as well as the tutoring of the
course got the lowest numbers. This is not surprising, because only few messages appeared in
both courses during the runtime and therefore only few responses of lecturers were necessary.
Furthermore lecturers did not use the forum actively.
The content itself (videos and interactive learning objects) were rated very well as well as the
course design and the structure. More than two-third of all learners were satisfied with the
needed time for the course according to the proposed time in the course description.
Draft originally published in: Ebner, M., Kopp, M., Scerbakov, A., Neuböck, K. (2016) MOOCs in Engineering Education: First Practical
Experiences from two MOOCs. In: Handbook of Research on Applied E-Learning in Engineering and Architecture Education. Fonseca, D.,
Redondo, E. (Eds.). pp. 224-236. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-8803-2
DISCUSSION
In this section we would like to discuss the main outcomes and lessons learnt from two MOOCs
with a strong focus on engineering education:
Course structure / course content: The course structure as well the course content was
rated very high by the learners. For sure it can be recommended that screen capturing and
interactive learning objects are appropriate methods to present content of typical
engineering education. Especially if drawings and calculations are major parts of the
course. Furthermore videos of interesting experiments with different camera views
helped to visualize complex correlations.
Participants: A very interesting outcome of the evaluation was that exactly half of the
learners were older than 35 years. With other words the online courses attracted learners
who are not students anymore, most of them older than 50. One student wrote in a
personal email to the lecturer that he loves the online courses, because he is not able to
attend any course in parallel to his job. Another one stated that he likes to get in touch
with the university again and that he uses the course for his personal training directly
related to his daily job.
Restrictions of the evaluation: One restriction of the evaluation is that we got only the
feedback from those students who remained in the course. Due to the fact that we related
the evaluation directly to the download of the course confirmation for participants, we
just got this group of participants. So we did not know why others dropped out and did
not finish the course. This will be a major issue for forthcoming research studies.
Costs and broadness: The course costs are high – our cost model (Fischer et al, 2014)
summarized that we need for the production about 25.000 to 30.000 for one online
course. Of course the content is not a very dynamic one. This means that such a
production can be offered for a longer time period. On the other side the audience is
restricted to learners in a very specific area. Especially the mechanic course is a very
specialized one. Together with the German language the target group can be small. This
must be considered when starting such a course.
Personnel expenditure: It is hard to quantify how many people were and are involved
around the MOOC initiative. In general it can be stated that for each MOOC a team of e-
Learning experts (didactical experts, developers), higher education developers as well as
content experts together with the teachers planned, developed and run the MOOC. For
each MOOC the effort of each person depends on different parameters. For example if
the teacher was experienced in online moderation, there was no need for further trainings.
As displayed in Table 2 there are many different parameters, which must be studied in
depth in future research work.
Teachers role: The teacher’s role in a MOOC differs of course from a face-to-face
lecture. He/she is much more facilitator of a predefined content and has to keep always an
eye on ongoing discussion in the forum. He/she should be experienced in online
moderation, especially how students can be motivated to discuss their problems and
exchange their thoughts online. Our case studies clearly pointed out that the main barrier
for beginning to post in the forum is that it is not easy to describe engineering problems
with text. Therefore links to uploaded pictures and formulas on other platforms appeared
quite often. One teacher also mentioned that he looked at lease one time / day in the
forum to keep him up-to-date.
Draft originally published in: Ebner, M., Kopp, M., Scerbakov, A., Neuböck, K. (2016) MOOCs in Engineering Education: First Practical
Experiences from two MOOCs. In: Handbook of Research on Applied E-Learning in Engineering and Architecture Education. Fonseca, D.,
Redondo, E. (Eds.). pp. 224-236. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-8803-2
Difficult course content: Especially the mechanic online course is a very tough one. With
other words the content itself needs high preknowledge in math and physics as well as
beginners knowledge in mechanics. Therefore the course is only appropriate for a small
group of learners. Within a very restrictive time frame, the number of possible learners is
low. On the other hand we understand the course not as a typical lecture, but much more
as a valuable resource for learning at any time, any place. Due to the fact that mechanics
is one of the most difficult lecture content of studies like mechanical engineering or civil
engineering such a course can be seen as a modern multimedia based learning content.
LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The outcomes of our study are directly related to xMOOCs with a strong focus on engineering
education. Due to the fact that engineering content is driven by visualization and math also other
technical studies can benefit from the results. Finally the idea of our xMOOCs follows more or
less the behaviorism learning theory. Online courses, which are using different theories, might be
implemented in another way.
CONCLUSION AND FUTURE WORK
In this research study we carried out two online massive open online courses, one about physics
and one about mechanics. We described the development of a platform, which serves as the
provider of the content and how such MOOCs can be provided. Our first practical experiences
pointed out that there is a huge potential to assist learners in a manifold way, but also that there
are different barriers. Bearing in mind the outcomes it seems to be very important to open such
kind of learning resources to the public because this strongly supports the lifelong learning
process. In a long run this might be crucial, particularly when society’s knowledge becomes an
essential factor for tomorrow’s economy. At the latest the future university will not only educate
young people, but also adults and elderly people.
Our future work will address different directions – on the one side the platform itself should be
adapted to further needs and offer place for another courses. Furthermore different parameters
during the MOOC development should be researched in more detail. For example we have
already carried out a study about business models for MOOCs (Fischer et al, 2014). Finally also
the learner itself as well as learning with MOOCs should be part of the research work to
understand how such online courses will help us best and for which purposes. This case study
was just the beginning of it.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We like to express our gratitude to the federal state government of Styria for funding the project
with the so called “Zukunftsfonds Steiermark” as well as the two universities located in Graz –
the University of Graz as well as Graz University of Technology. We are equally indebted to the
whole iMooX team who is working hard but with full enthusiasm on the idea bringing education
to the whole society at least in Austria.
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Draft originally published in: Ebner, M., Kopp, M., Scerbakov, A., Neuböck, K. (2016) MOOCs in Engineering Education: First Practical
Experiences from two MOOCs. In: Handbook of Research on Applied E-Learning in Engineering and Architecture Education. Fonseca, D.,
Redondo, E. (Eds.). pp. 224-236. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-8803-2
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