MOOCs are fashionable, but GOOD MOOCs are hard to prepare!
From Friday 17 February 2017, our new MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Smart Cities became online. Following the excellent performance of our previous MOOC on Management of Urban Infrastructures (being online from February 2016, see the below picture), the Smart Cities MOOC also proved to be highly appreciated by the learners (see the above picture) from its starting day.
Those who have the experience of working in the E-Learning industry will admit that achieving such high levels of satisfaction about the content of an online course (99%) is not as easy task. This is why I wanted to share some of my personal experiences from working on these two MOOCs at EPFL in the past two years.
1) Think of your course’s overall course story first, before getting to the very details of producing a video. You need a well-thought, coherent and clear narrative for your course. It is not just about recording the video in a fancy studio!
2) Developing 10 minutes of high quality content requires at least 10 hours of preparation (I really mean at least!). So, be prepared for tough times producing a good quality MOOC! You have to condense your message to 10 minutes, so every single word counts and your content (graphics, phrases, etc.) needs to be well hammered before you go in front of the camera. Again, it is not just about lecturing, it is about delivering a clear, consistent and well-thought message to your audience.
3) A good MOOC is a team product! You need to have smart people who can think clearly and give you intelligent feedback on what you say, and how you say it. If you don’t want to hear any criticism in your own team when preparing a MOOC, be ready to hear all of them when you have launched the course! So, encourage your team to actively criticize everything that you do! Not easy, but quite effective! We have had some tough times in our team as well, but we survived at the end.
4) You need to know your stuff well, and you also need to understand the pedagogy very well! Many people think that if you are an expert researcher in your field, you can also develop a fantastic MOOC. Knowing your stuff is an absolutely necessary, but not sufficient condition to have a high quality MOOC. If you have a hard time thinking about the very dimensions of pedagogy in addition to the core content of the course, get someone who can understand what you are talking about, but is also able to work with you on the pedagogical aspects of the MOOC.