CNI Fall 2012 Meeting: HarvardX: Developing Communities of Practice for Innovation in Online Learning

HarvardX: Developing Communities of Practice for Innovation in Online Learning
Samantha Earp, Susan Fliss, Harvard University

Most in the audience think MOOCS are at the height of inflated expectations on the Gartner hype cycle.

Early work in progress at Harvard (in startup mode).

EdX was launched in May, following on MITX courses. Harvard and MIT are founding institutions and funding initial work. Slowly growing in a deliberate, measured pace. Evolving to a software + services organization.

HarvardX is the Harvard engagement manifesting as a set of courses on EdX.

High level institutional goals: Improve education on campus, bring education to the world, conduct research on how to deliver on the first two goals. Alignment with educational mission at Harvard, priorities should align with the educational goals of the individual schools. Starting with intent that everything recirculates back to campus.

A very faculty-driven effort. Hoping to push the envelope of using the platform – many examples of online and distance learning at Harvard already. Not looking for a cookie-cutter approach, as opposed to the templated approach in older LMS systems. Looking to explore what’s possible, and willing to tolerate some mistakes along the way. Not just a publication effort – not just taking a course and crafting for publication like a bronze in a museum, but trying to make courses available and learn and adapt.

Faculty have established two high-level criteria – focus on quality and impact. Beyond that focus is on extending and sustaining. Not interested in a series of one-offs. The idea is to foster communities of practice. An important strategy in how we learn from each other.

EdX is governed by board of four members each from MIT and Harvard. Those four (at Harvard) form the core leadership team. THere’s a faculty course team, working on major policy questions, what a course looks like, etc, from faculty perspective. There’s a research committee looking at what is important for Harvard to learn from this.

Course development – have a small core team. Most critical is a HarvardX fellow role – deep pedagogical background along with project management and tech skills. Coordinators of communities of practice and a number of students and contract staff. Will eventually will have research fellows. Will work as data scientists on research questions.

Looking for pedagogy to drive platform development. Slated to become open source platform, which implies a governance and community process that don’t exist yet.

What does it mean to teach in this flavor of online space, and what does it mean for the campus? Leads to a rejuvenated discussion of pedagogy on campus. What pedagogies might be out there already that we should adopt locally?

Intellectual property, copyright, content is an issue.

The opportunity to Collect and analyze data on the librarian participation in courses is exciting to Harvard librarians. Librarians are beginning to plan to support EdX both locally and across the participating institutions. Forming two groups: one on copyright process one on research.

Main issues are use of copyright materials in use, assignment of copyrighted readings, assignment of copyright for original content, applicability of notice and takedown provisions of DMCA, and accessibility. Group is working on suggesting best practices in these areas, using use cases.

Research skills working group in participating libraries – Determining best how to support learners in information seeking tasks and information literacy.

Two groups will collaborate with faulty, academic colleagues, and each other.

Two courses so far. 56,000 people signed up for epidemiology course and roughly 20% are sticking with it. Adding four more courses in spring – law, greek lit, government.

Interested in engaging faculty in developing experimental instructional modules – hoping to quickly ramp up experiments with faculty. May get used in future learning experiences that may or may not be a course. Interested in how this interacts with residential education.

For one course Elsevier allowed page images from the textbook to be used in the MOOC and then sold out the entire press run of that book – they’re interested in exploring more use.

Some materials are clearly available openly, some clearly need licensing, but there’s a large body in the middle that might be covered by fair use.



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