Education/News/November 2017/Exploring Wikiversity to create a MOOC
Exploring Wikiversity's tools to create a MOOC
Technologies that change the way we communicate may also change the processes of teaching and learning. Radio’s development arouse the hope of spreading knowledge for everyone, regardless of the distance. Decades later, television did almost the same, but the expectations were lower: Frankfurt’s School had already been talking about the negative effects of mass communication. Internet’s expansion since the 1990’s has renewed the debate over communication technologies and education, which was spiced up by smartphones’ dissemination.
Mobile internet access has shown new possibilities for distance learning, as well as it has sparkled questions for those who create the courses. For example, what media (images, illustrations, videos) should be used, how to evaluate student’s performance, where will the student read/watch/listen to the course or in which platform will the course be available. There plenty of answers for these questions and none of them is consensual. However, I would say that the most important question, that should be done at first, is: in which platform will the course be available? A possible answer is Wikiversity.
With the support of Fapesp (São Paulo Research Foundation), NeuroMat (Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics) and Wikimedia in Brazil -- which assistance is indispensable --, I am part of a group that has been developing an introductory course for scientific journalism that will be available at Wikiversity in portuguese in six months. In addition, Wikimedia in Brazil has promoted a series of activities this year to encourage the participation of people from the Brazilian academy and to present Wikipedia's improvements, such as edit-a-thons, cultural contests, GLAM and institutional partnerships.
Also, we are talking to the Brazilian Association of Scientific Journalism to get its support. It will be a MOOC, Massive Open Online Course, a format that has not been used by the courses in portuguese, and completely online. Most of the other available courses on pt.wikiversity are guidelines for presencial classes, with links directing to other sites, with almost no video or image, only texts. Therefore, there isn’t a format example in portuguese that we could follow. We had to go to Wikiversity in other languages to find a MOOC to rely on.
A model of course that we have been following is about Web Science. Its content is structured in week, parts and subjects, with videos conducting the classes. On the other hand, there is little text and it doesn’t use too many images. Actually, images are something that can be more explored in Wikiversity. For example, the interactive maps. We have learned that Wikiversity also supports this kind of image, which seems to be more attractive for the students.
How to evaluate the students is something that we are still analysing. Quiz is an option with many possibilities. They can ask the student to choose the right answer, fill the gap, mark true or false for each statement, and so on. Another aspect that we are thinking about is if it is possible to make a student collaborate with Wikipedia by editing, improving or creating an article related to the course’s subject.
The main challenge, though, are the videos. To record them with a person teaching or talking about the subject is probably the easiest way, but it would only be a substitute for texts content. In my opinion, videos for distance learning have two goals: conduct the students through the course and present subjects that are hard to understand in an easier way. Creating an introductory course of scientific journalism has been a challenge since day one. We are working on every aspects of it, trying to explore Wikiversity and its tools to the full, so the next person that starts to create a MOOC in portuguese has an example to look up to. I look forward to writing for Education Newsletter, next time with the course’s development finished.