MOOCs Production

Creating a MOOC

Creating a MOOC consists of a major redesign of your course. It allows you to reach out to a larger audience, and can at the same time free up time in class to run seminars and deep discussions.

Between 2012 and 2017 EPFL’s MOOCs have attracted two million registrations from de 186 countries. 100’000 participants passed the course and obtained a statement of accomplishment. This report describes our activities in the MOOC domain (lowres pdf. hires pdf).

Course Design
We will accompany you through out the process of designing your MOOC. You will start by thinking about your learners, who they are, under what basis they will be taking your course, and, with that in mind, you will set a level of prerequisite knowledge.

The following step will be to define the learning objectives of your course (the desired results of the instruction, what learners should know or be able to do by the end of your course). This will help you create an assessment plan and a draft of your graded assignments. Passing the assignments will be a proof that learning objectives have been achieved.

You will then develop an outline of the instruction materials your learners will need in order to pass the assignments (and therefore achieve your learning objectives). This will be accomplished through a document called the blueprint. In the blueprint, you will define all the learning items that will make up your course (video lectures, quizzes and assignments, text pages of resources and instructions, discussion prompts, etc.).

We will help you translate assessments ideas into concrete and feasible online assignments and will assist you in implementing your course on our learning platforms.

After a first course run, we’ll provide you with some rich feedback, which will serve you as a basis for improvement.

Video Production
Once the professors have finished designing their MOOC, we will accompany them through out the MOOC production process. Teaching in front of a camera comes with new challenges. Most professors have had very little experience in producing videos and are not used to teach in front of a camera, without an audience. Before starting the production, we familiarize themselves with a workshop about the art of presenting on camera and training recording sessions. In this step, there is a lot of information that get given to the professors and covers a range of different areas like slide design, how to work with the studio, what kind of videos they want to produce, etc.

Then, we invite professors to a review meeting session in order to give them feedbacks about their performance and help them building their slides. We bring to their attention that every lesson needs to be prepared very carefully, much more than for a “normal” course. We also help them to understand the video production and editing process. What kind of visual resources do they need? Are they going to annotate their slides on the tablet? Did they get the rights for the material they want to use (graphics, images, etc.). We encourage them to engage with their material either by using pointing gestures or by annotating their slides.

Finally, once professors are ready to record, we start the video production. The typical format of a MOOC is a 6-8 week course, where standard 2 hours lectures become a set of 5 to 10 videos of 10-12 minutes each. We have observed that a 4-hour session is enough to produce 2-3 videos on average. The preparation of the material is the most time-consuming aspect of video production. It is not unusual for professors to spend half a day preparing for 15 minutes of video. After their recording session, video editors from CEDE produce a first version of the lecture which is sent to professors for review. This step is critical for quality control since it allows professors to check that the academic content is adequate. Most often a single review step is not enough before we get final version of the video. This is a very time consuming process. For each hour of course, there are some 50 hours of work involved, including preparation, production and technical issues. It takes one week for the editing, one week for review, another to put it online and finally an additional week for the subtitles.

Producing a MOOC usually takes 9 months and includes lots of steps. It is a collaborative effort with a course team (professor and assistants) and the staff of the CEDE.

Funding and Editorial Policy
The DRIL fund (Digital Resources for Instruction and Learning) can provide financial support to prepare material for a MOOC. The editorial policy is setting a priority on first year courses in fundamental science and engineering topics. If you plan for a more advanced MOOC, you can take care of the content preparation by yourself and submit a project to DRIL to get the Center for Digital Education do the MOOC production.

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