Last week while I was at Stanford some people from Google came in and talked about their experiences of delivering MOOCs on the Google Course Builder (for Google).  Julia Wilkowski (senior instructional designer) talked about experiences on the Power Search and Advanced Power Search MOOCs and Cammy Huang-DeVoss talked about the YouTube Creator Academy and its Maximise Your Channel MOOC.  It was a great talk to a packed room – so my thanks to the organisers and Julia/Cammy for letting me come along! I’m not going to go into everything talked about (the information is available elsewhere and I don’t think I’ll add much to it!), but reflecting on the discussion I had two key take homes:

  1. We ought to be measuring signup intent at the start of courses.  When google surveyed on one of their courses 50% never had any intention of completing.  Completion rates of 8% are not necessarily problematic in any case (I guess) but certainly our hope would be that 100% of students achieve their actual learning goal (even if it was just to “have a look”, or to take only one specific lecture in the course).  To give an example of where this might be problematic, Google reported a very low completion rate for their Advanced Power Searching MOOC – but, the course was a really “dip in, dip out” structure, and the final assignment was really hard(!) – my guess (of course, this is checkable) would be that plenty of people just gave up at that point; outcome measures matter.

  2. Interestingly, on the search education MOOCs both video and text (not quite transcript, and it has images, etc. in too) were used pretty well equally (I used the text).  Having that flexibility is important and we shouldn’t assume people will always prefer “visual” lectures.  It’s also worth noting a feature of youtube videos is bookmarking – you can put a hyperlink under your video to link to a particular timestamp (and you can gather click data on this giving insight into which bits people re-watch, or watch at all, the most)