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MOOCs and the AI-Stanford Like Courses: Two Successful and Distinct Course Formats for Massive Open Online Courses
Rodriguez, C. Osvaldo

JournalEuropean Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning
Volume 15, Pages 13
CountryUnited States, North America

Open online courses (OOC) with a massive number of students have represented an important development for online education in the past years.

A course on artificial intelligence, CS221, at the University of Stanford was offered in the fall of 2011 free and online which attracted 160,000 registered students. It was one of three offered as an experiment by the Stanford computer science department to extend technology knowledge and skills to the entire world. The instructors were two of the best known experts in the subject of artificial intelligence. Although students would not get Stanford University grades or credit, 20,000 from 190 countries finished the course successfully receiving a “statement of accomplishment” from the tutors Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig. Udacity is a start-up from the authors of CS221 delivering similar massive free online courses. EdX, a joint partnership between The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University to offer online learning to millions of people around the world, is one of the most recent proposals in this realm.

Massive open online courses known as connectivist MOOCs (c-MOOCs) on the other hand have been delivered since 2008. They are based on the explicit principles of connectivism (autonomy, diversity, openness and interactivity) and on the activities of aggregation, remixing, repurposing and feeding forward the resources and learning.

In the research literature, newspaper and magazine articles both types of OOCs, AI-Stanford like courses (AI) and c-MOOCs, have been identified in many occasions as equivalent.

Distance education (DE) pedagogy can be classified through the evolution of three categories: cognitive-behaviourist, social constructivist, and connectivist. These three current and future generations of DE pedagogy have an important place in a well-rounded educational experience. To a large extent, the generations have evolved in tandem with the technologies and all three models are very much in existence today and are categorized by a set of conditions.

In this paper we study in detail representative courses from AI and c-MOOC formats. We establish that although they share the use of distributed networks the format associated with c-MOOCs, which are defined by a participative pedagogical model, are unique and different from AI. We further assign to the AI to a cognitive-behaviourist (with some small contribution of social constructivist) and MOOCs to connectivist pedagogy.

Keywords massive open online course · MOOC · distance education pedagogy

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