Tag: e-learning

Online courses can be a great way to teach (and learn) new skills. They can be small and highly personal, or scale to thousands of students. As followup to my post about “What is an online course?”, let’s look behind the scenes at a few kinds of successful online classes, rich with video, feedback and large amounts of real-world work.

Structuring a course

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) currently has six 8 or 10 week online courses. The cost is $200 for self-guided courses, or $350 for instructor-led. The latter enroll 30-45 students. MoMA offers both knowledge classes, e.g., “Modern and Contemporary Art: 1945–1989,” and knowledge/skill courses, e.g., “Materials and Techniques of Postwar Abstract Painting,” in which students do hands-on work at home.

The instructor-led classes offer structure, socialization and personalization; whereas, the self-guided courses are about individual freedom, providing access to curated articles and video, with no live instructor facilitation nor social interaction with other students.

The studio-art offerings have weekly assignments. For example, students paint canvases using the  materials and techniques of iconic artists. They photograph their works in progress and finished, and upload them to discuss with other students and the instructor. Wendy Woon directs MoMA’s education department. She feels the 10-week timeframe has worked well for studio art, allowing enough time for a sense of trust and community to develop in the discussion forums so that students are willing to have “critical conversations” criticizing each other’s work.


Do we need yet another online version of Economics 101? Why are universities putting courseware online, and what’s in it for students and schools? Inside Higher Ed’s post by Steve Kolowich, “Online Courseware’s Existential Moment,” discusses the world of open courseware, and what the next chapter may look like. He includes a short interview with Taylor Walsh, author of Unlocking the Gate, a new book about how universities are opening up access to courses. Here are some key points and excerpts from the article:


Creating an online environment that fosters discovery.   The sun in Monet’s “Impression Sunrise” is oddly vivid due to a curious visual phenomenon. Users explore this phenomenon by varying color saturation and brightness. (WebExhibits) Problem A web site that offers only text does not encourage visitors to delve deeper into the subject matter. Solution Create

  Interactivity helps explain why the sky is blue. Problem Some subjects are naturally difficult to teach, while others are perceived as tedious. Teaching through the use of static text and images leads to a passive learning experience that doesn’t engage students. As a result, students’ attentions wane and the information isn’t assimilated. Solution Introduce

Describing learning as the interrelation between behavioral, environmental, and personal factors.   According to Social Cognitive Theory, interactive learning allows students to gain confidence through practice. A spacedog can practice spacewalks using simulators to overcome his fears before his first spaceflight. Problem How do people’s experiences, environments, and behaviors affect how they learn? Theory Social

Bridging the digital divide requires flexibility. In a village meeting, adults get the weekly news and discuss the pressing issues of the day – a far cry from the technology parks and campuses that are driving the Indian technology boom.  Problem Should we take the practices of our technological culture into emerging technological cultures? Solution

Enriching teacher-student communication with online tools. Problem: The limitations of classroom teaching are too constricting. Time and resources don’t stretch far enough, and the quality of your interaction with students is too dependent on the mood of the classroom at the moment you are together. Solution: There are many potential tradeoffs and pitfalls to online

Enhancing the learning experience by correctly using online tools. Problem: Although classroom teaching has its limitations, you are concerned that online teaching sacrifices quality or that it provides refuge for underperformers. Solution: Tap into resources that allow educators to measure their current skills and competencies against those related to successful online teaching in order to