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SJU LLG-1 Comparative Review of Two MOOCs (2019)

Thank you for taking the time to learn from what we have learned!

Our group, LLG 1, each viewed two MOOCs provided by edX.org.  After the viewings, we met and discussed our initial reactions and reflections. The two learnings we participated in were “Nutrition and Cancer” and “Origins of the Human Mind”.

“Nutrition and Cancer” provided information on how to take preventative steps through nutrition to reduce cancer risk.  We were first offered a video where the multi-disciplinary team of instructors engaged in an informal introduction to the topic, each providing their area of study through a brief biography.

An initial survey assessed our basic understanding of how lifestyle and nutrition affect cancer, with the results compared to previously submitted course surveys so that we could gauge our underlying knowledge to that of other MOOC participants.

The MOOC provided multiple modules containing short lecture videos detailing the biology behind cancer. The videos were vibrant and paired well with the lecture.  The instructors were engaging and presented in such a way that was easy to comprehend.

The MOOC supported the Cognitive Learning Theory by offering discussion boards that shared co-learners personal experience on the topic. Co-learners provided dietary tips and lifestyle changes that they have undertaken in order to be proactive in cancer prevention. This was highly informative, collaborative, and engaging - similar to how a discussion would occur in a traditional classroom. (Merriam & Bierema, 2014)   

“Origins of the Human Mind” focused on research that centered on the study of monkeys in Japan in order to fully understand the early evolutionary stages of the human mind.  The instructor introductions were solely in writing with no corresponding video which differed from “Nutrition and Cancer” as it provided no personal connection with the instructor.

The topic introduction included a few interesting facts such as there are no monkey species that are indigenous to North America and Europe. Other topics included monkeys’ geographic culture and their reliance on each other for survival. The instructor then took us through his extensive field work and observations.

The information was in lecture form with the instructor sitting at a desk reading directly from his laptop to a class of students. Occasionally students would interject with a question that would be answered by the instructor.

The discussion boards were sparsely used and did not provide insight into the course content.  After each video, there was a graded assessment about the previous discussion.

Regarding our LLG’s KLSI learning styles, our team consisted of an Imagining learner (Mark), Reflective learner (Ken), and Initiating learning (Kate). Based on our reactions to the two online learning modules, we agreed that our learning styles connected with the "Cancer and Nutrition" style more than the "Origins of the Human Mind".  All three of our styles rely on Concrete Experience, and the former training did not provide enough learning from specific experiences, relating to people, or sensitivity to others. It was very high-level and did not satisfy our "what's in it for me" requirements in our learning styles, while “Nutrition and Cancer” met all of our basic needs.

Upon reflecting on our experiences with participating in the MOOCs, we were able to relate them to Knowles’ assumptions of andragogy.  With relation to Knowles’ fourth assumption, we viewed “Nutrition and Cancer” as problem-centered and “Origins of the Human Mind” as subject-centered.  “Nutrition and Cancer” provided information and knowledge that could possibly be applied both immediately and in the future. In contrast, “Origins of the Human Mind” did not provide any information that could be practically applied by anyone in our LLG. (Merriam & Bierema, 2014)

 

Reference

Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult learning linking theory and practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

 

Authors

Kate Loesch

Ken Travis

Mark Williams

 

 

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