Scaling For-Credit CS1 Education Online

Concurrent Session 6

Brief Abstract

At Georgia Tech, we built and tested a MOOC-style for-credit course using McGraw-Hill's SmartBook, edX, and Vocareum, achieving equal performance as a traditional class while improving many elements of the student experience.


David Joyner is the Associate Director for Student Experience in Georgia Tech's College of Computing, overseeing the administration of the college's online Master of Science in Computer Science program as well as its new online undergraduate offerings. He has developed and teaches CS6460: Educational Technology, CS6750: Human-Computer Interaction, and CS1301: Introduction to Computing, all online.

Extended Abstract

In 2017, Georgia Tech partnered with McGraw-Hill, edX, Vocareum, and Verificient to develop a course that could simultaneously function as a for-credit course for on-campus students and a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). The course, CS1301: Introduction to Computing, debuted in January 2017 and has since attracted 440 Georgia Tech undergraduates and nearly 70,000 MOOC registrants. For the course to qualify for the same credit as the traditional version of CS1301, we have performed rigorous assessment to ensure that learning outcomes and the student experience are both comparable. Analyzing the first two large semesters of the course, we have found that learning outcomes are similar across the two sections, while students in the online version report higher student satisfaction. This stands in contrast to many experiments in the past that have found inferior performance from online students, and demonstrates that well-designed, thoughtful online learning experiences can generate comparable learning outcomes to traditional in-person experiences. In this talk, we cover the design of the course, the use of McGraw-Hill’s SmartBook technology in support of it, and the analysis of these results.