For this post, I chose the Open Course website Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE). Stanford’s Open Course website includes courses such as Introduction to Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Electrical Engineering (Stanford University, 2015). The course I selected to review was CS223A – Introduction to Robotics (https://see.stanford.edu/Course/CS223A).
As I started to review the course, I quickly realized that the course was taken from the traditional classroom and put online. What gave this away was the first lecture video was of the instructor standing in front of a lecture hall talking to “actual” students. As we have learned in our textbook, distance courses previously taught in the traditional classrooms may need to be reworked to be delivered at a distance and the “focus of the instruction must shift to visual presentations; engaged learners; and careful timing of presentations of information” (Simonson, Smaldino, and Zvacek, 2015). After digging further into the course, there were documents with office hours, TA names, etc. that weren’t applicable to me as an Open Course learner. Even though these things occurred, the course was formatted attractively and included key items such as a syllabus-however planning should have included reworking the classroom lectures to fit the distance learner’s experience.
The course loosely follows the Unit, Module, and Topic (UMT) model. The UMT module is composed of units, then modules (a major subdivision of units), and finally topics (supporting ideas of a module) (Simonson, Smaldino, and Zvacek, 2015). The 16 modules compose 7 topic areas; however, these items are split up and learners have to go to handouts and assignments to match them with the appropriate lecture materials. As far as content, the course contains textbook readings, PowerPoint handouts, and video lectures with accompanying slides. As depicted by the textbook, with this being an online course, the goal is to incorporate, web resources, graphics, video, audio, discussions, etc. (Simonson, Smaldino, and Zvacek, 2015). This course is defiantly lacking in graphics and engaging media – as the slides are often composed of dated looking content and videos. High-quality courses should have an emphasis on the use of various visual media tools to offer the instructional content (Simonson, Smaldino, and Zvacek, 2015). This is an area that could defiantly be improved in the course. Next, as far as instruction/teaching guidelines, the pace of the instruction is completely left up to the learners. However, there is a loose pace that could be based of the in-class reading schedule that is provided in the syllabus, but there is no clearly defined/suggested schedule for online learners. The pace of instruction should be of high concern to the distance education (Simonson, Smaldino, and Zvacek, 2015). However, because this is an Open Course, focus may not have been put on that particular item.
This course fell short of implementing course activities that maximize active learning for students. The only assessments in the course were PDF handouts of assignment problems. Because the course isn’t being offered on a Content Management System, engaging assessments such as auto-scoring activities (quizzes, etc.) are not provided. Incorporating this feature would offer a more engaging learning environment by providing immediate answers and guiding feedback to the learner. Feedback that can be offered in assessments such as auto-scoring ones is particularly important because if learners are not understanding something, they need to be directed where to go to review the appropriate information. The course does however offer a PDF of solutions for the learner to sift through if he or she wishes to do so.
Stanford University. (2015). Welcome to Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE). Retrieved from https://see.stanford.edu/
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (6th ed.) Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.