An open university prep course – MOOC for basic skills

I’ve been interested in the potential of running a massive open online course for basic skills for a while now. Most of the open courses that we’ve run so far have been geared towards experienced learners. While there does not seem to be any correlation between ‘web experience’ and success, I feel pretty comfortable in saying that there is a fair amount of correlation between ‘learning experience’ and success. The open courses are less structured than a formal course, and therefore take a bit of getting used to. (don’t know what a mooc is? This post, and particularly the first video should help)

Overview of the MOOC for basic skills plan

Free online course teaching basic skills for success at university

UPEI has funded a 30 month project exploring the possibilities of running Massive Open Online Courses to help students prepare themselves for university the year before the arrive. The course is not targeted for our university specifically, but rather at the university experience anywhere they may experience it. It just so happens that there is a course here that has been running for almost thirty years helping students with the skills they need for success – we’re just trying to bring that to a new format. The hope is that in the fall of 2012, when we offer the second version of the course, that students would be able to take the course for free, and then, if they wish to, collect a portfolio of their work and PLAR for credit.

This year, we’ll be teaching a shortened non-credit course. We’re thinking we’ll do about five weeks. There are a number of questions that we’re going to need address, and we have no idea what kind of demand we will have. What we do know is that we’re hearing back from a number of our contacts in high schools that there still is a fair amount of confusion about what is expected in a university, what one does there, and what skills students should be working on if they are to succeed when they arrive. We’ve started a number of projects in the last few years in an attempt to give students a helping hand (like Jumpstart) and this is really an attempt to take that to the next level.

What will the course look like?
If you’ve participated in one of our open courses before, it will be similar, with a bit more structure built in. We’re currently working with a number of folks to try and stitch together analytics for participants in a course so that they a student can track their own participation and compare it to others. We’ll have two live sessions a week. We’ll have a number of assignments and interesting ways to share those assignments and work with different other groups around it. We’re also creating a number of new resources (like the video above) that will be used in the course and will also be useful as standalone pieces. In five weeks, if students commit to the process, they’ll have a good sense of what they can work on before they start school the following September.

How you can help
I’d really like to make all the work we do on the project as useful to as many people as possible. We’re committing to making at least 4 more videos like “The Syllabus” that will address simple issues that students need to know about.

Send suggestions

We’re also hoping to gather together as many resources as we possibly can to apply to this issue. We’ll collect everything you send us, and find a nice way of organizing them for everyone to use. Tag them #obs11 and we’ll get them. Or you can always send them to me in the comment stream or anywhere else.

Tag basic skills (in the succeed at the university sense) resources

We’d also love to have people join the team… but it’s a bit early for that yet. This is a bit weird for me, in six years of writing this blog, this is the first time I’ve ever written something from work. Ping me on twitter if you’re interested in becoming more involved, or just leave an email here.

Author: dave

I run this site... among other things.

10 thoughts on “An open university prep course – MOOC for basic skills”

  1. Count me in. The potential for something like this is what drew me to MOOCs in the first place. I’m floundering about trying to develop an ongoing open self-paced online study group for ESL. I’d had it in mind for some time and worked on something more lesson-structured with a friend that morphed into email groups, trying out varying formats. Then I got the blogging bug and moved it (whatever it was) onto a blog, first a closed blog, now an open blog but with the notion of associating other applications should interest in private writing groups emerge (so far not but that’s another issue).

    I have also taught basics skills ground, online and hybrid: GED, Developmental English, Study Skills. So I also have a pretty good idea of the area… and tar pits lurking below the surface.

    Ultimately, I would like to develop a basic skills, literacies, GED, writing for the workplace page primarily for the relatively isolated and economically depressed rural New Mexico where I live.

  2. Has this course already taken place? I’ve recently heard about these MOOCcourses and very much interested infinding out more about the various MOOC courses that I may be able to take.

  3. I’d love to be part of this as well. One comment I would make is to remember to be inclusive of those who are no longer in high school but not yet in college — those who’ve been out of school a few years, or maybe didn’t finish high school in the first place. This is a population that a lot of colleges don’t address well. I was in that group myself 35 years ago when I became a college freshman a full four years after graduating from high school. All 3 of my kids were homeschooled, and now in their 20’s and finally deciding on their educational paths, they are discovering that the short gap of years between high school and college creates a wider educational gap than they expected.

  4. Hi, Dave. I’m wondering if you have an update this project. I’m interested in something similar and am wondering if you moved ahead with this. I’ve also been talking with a group about a “pre-MOOC MOOC” that would focus on the skills you need to be successful in a MOOC. Maybe you’ve already done something like that as a part of this. Or maybe you could use something like that?

    Anyway, ping me if you want to talk more. Thanks.

  5. Hey Dave et al,

    Wondering about any updates about this – very interested in hearing more and potentially being involved.

  6. Dave, you will want to consider adapting the open educational resources from Bridge To Success,

    You might also look at the free extracts from Open University UK courses, e.g., Numbers, Units and Arithmetic,, or the Preparatory Course structure offered by Open Universities Australia, e.g., (not OER, alas).

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