Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe MOOC: Part 2

Having found my edX password I was able to enter the course website for  the Australian National University’s first Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs): "Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe" (ANUx: ANU-ASTRO1x). Provided is a video (which I can't access due to my limited bandwidth at home). Also there is a five page course outline, provided as a PDF download. At 6.1MBytes, the course outline taxed my low bandwidth wireless link and is about ten times as large as it need be. The outline provides a good overview of what the course is about and the assesment.

Assessment for the course is :
  1. Lesson Questions: 10% multiple choice
  2. Homework: 50%. Mathematical questions.
  3. Final Examination: 40%. 
Students are asked not to post answers to the assesment questions to the discussion board. It would be interesting to see if any software is used to police this. There are six six PhD students to moderate the discussion.

The course is run using Universal Time (UTC). Recently I had difficulty with time-zones for a course and the use of UTC s a sensible choice for an international course.

The course-ware (course notes) appear to have been divided into chunks of 120 to 180 words of text. Interestingly this is about the amount which fits on a TV screen and also the amount a typical student would write in a forum posting.

The course-ware included short videos, which I can't access. There is an option for downloading transcripts of the videos, but that does not seem to work either. Alongside the video window is some text (about 500 words) which might be the transcript. On the next page is a multiple choice question, which is presumably about whatever the video was supposed to tell me.

Without being able to access the videos, it does not appear this course will be usable. Even without the videos, the interface is so sluggish as to not be usable.

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