Utilizing Innovative Customizable Pathways / Dual-Layer MOOC Course Design for True Individualized Learning

Concurrent Session 2

Brief Abstract

Recent work on customizable pathways course design points to interesting possibilities for individualized learning. This session will discuss how to create dual-layer courses.

Archivist Notes

Extended Abstract

In the Fall of 2014, the Data, Analytics, and Learning MOOC (DALMOOC) was offered utilizing an innovative dual-layer design. This design paradigm creates two complete course modality layers to achieve the same set of course competencies: one modality that is instructivist in nature, and the other that is connectivist in nature. The instructivist layer is designed as a traditional instructor-guided online course, complete with content, discussions, activities, and assessment designed to guide learners towards completion of the competency. The connectivist layer is designed to allow learners to form their own path towards completion of the competencies, through group work, personal learning networks, and other student-centered methods. Both modalities are valid pathways to complete the course competencies. Learners have the option to choose one of the modalities, both of the modalities, or a custom mixture of either modality at any given moment.

The key to making this course structure work is careful instructional design and tool selection. Lessons learned from DALMOOC were integrated into another MOOC, Humanizing Online Instruction (HumanMOOC), offered in the Winter of 2015. New concepts introduced into HumanMOOC include a neutral zone, extended scaffolding support, and a streamlined artifact submission process. The Neutral Zone was designed as a centralized "glue" area for both modalities, laying out the options for learners and providing links to allow learners to choose their pathway. The Neutral Zone also offered a series of scaffolding lessons and tools designed to help learners transition from the instructivist modality they are typically used to into the connectivist layer.

This interactive session will continue to explore the lessons learned from both dual-layer MOOC offerings. Questions to be discussed include:

ï What is the importance of the neutral zone? Since all instructors and tools have bias, how can it truly be "neutral"?
ï How would an instructor convert an existing course to the dual-layer model?
ï Is scaffolding really that important? Can't learners just find their own way to the modality they want?
ï How do you grade assignments that come from such different modalities?
ï Is the dual-layer design concept just for MOOCs, or can traditional courses use this concept also?

By the end of the session, attendees should have a better understanding of what is takes to design a dual-layer course of their own. This is a new, emerging idea with many unanswered questions, so hopefully attendees will also walk away with a good idea of where future work needs to happen within this concept.