With the circumstances laid out in the last post, I’ve decided to play with the edX courseware platform. Skeptical thoughts about Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs) like edX and Coursera have been written by those versed in higher education trends and those further removed from higher education, much less distance education. I think the idea behind edX is interesting and has a lot of potential. While online education from flagship universities is no longer much of a novelty, the scale of the endeavor keeps MOOCs in an area of experimentation that may fairly be described as bold.
For all that’s been written a substantial fraction of which I’ve read together with my experience enrolled in an edX course, I still don’t feel I can make a judgement about the mission behind MOOCs. At least I can’t guarantee I won’t have regrets even six month into the future about the warrant behind a statement about MOOCs that inserts either the sort of grand sweeping vision of the model’s advocates or the misdirected disbelief of David Brooks. The ground underneath any possible statement is just moving too fast with new MOOC collaborations announced monthly it seems while the convential wisdom about MOOCs changes at least every two weeks.
Here are a few things I can say from my experience though.
- The courseware is spectacular. It has some downtime and it is rough around some edges like many online services are in their beta period, but at least from the student perspective it is more polished than Blackboard in both its interface and its tendency to just work. I haven’t seen the instructor or administrator side of it, but if it is anything like the student side I could imagine a lot wanting to use the edX software if it was spun of from the edX MOOC platform.
- My course HarvardX’s CS50x is interesting. When it wraps up in April will probably beget part 3 of this series.
- With the letter “X” they seem to have their branding figured out, but there are some questions. It is capitalized in edX and in [Insert University Name]X, but not in [insert Course Number]x. How long will it take for adding an “x” to course numbers before they bump into some university’s course numbering scheme. These probably ought to be the easy questions.