Evolution of Digital Courses

Distance education is the teaching concept which implies the physical separation of teacher and students. It’s usage can be traced back to the late 1800s, and, 300 years later, after a few media transformations (correspondence, parcel post, radio), with the arrival and democratization of computer uses -and later on, Internet -, Digital Education made its entrance [1].

In the early 1970s, radio and television uses in the classroom, as tools to explain concepts, rapidly grow while the same usage for distance education decline [2]: Television courses at the time were poorly produced and basically implied filming teachers reading their notes with a monotone voice. Online educational programs emerged in 1989, with  CompuServe, one of the first consumer online services (used by The University of Phoenix). Then, in 1991, the WWW (World Wide Web) was revealed, and the University of Phoenix became the first to offer online education programs [3].

Nowadays, the majority of distance education programs are thought for international dissemination and uploaded on the Web [4].
The usage of Technology in education goes definitely beyond digitizing existing courses: Innovative solutions can emerge from it, i.e. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). This concept came out of a simple problem: How to welcome thousands of students attending to a course? Therefore, specific digital features can actually provide original learning ways and bring other perspectives toward our relationship with Digital Learning and Higher Education (HE). Although experimental, Online Courses like MOOCs are gaining extent in the educational landscape: According to data gathered by Class Central [5]: ”Around 20 million new learners signed up for their first MOOC in 2017. That’s fewer than the 23 million new learners who registered for a MOOC in 2016. The total number of MOOC learners is now 78 million. […] To date, over 800 universities around the world have launched at least one MOOC. The number of announced MOOCs stands at 9,400, up from 6,850 last year”.  This study reveals that universities are evolving into accessible digital entities delivering credentials for any student on the globe. Furthermore, the MOOC model has grown and  is already breaking into so many categories: xMOOC, cMOOC, and hybrid Online Courses (BOOC, DOCC, LOOC, MOOR, SPOC, SMOC) [6] However, the teach-learn-assess cycle in education is broken in a typical MOOC. Accordingly, universities reach a critical stake when it comes to accreditations on these platforms. The large number of students in MOOCs, or even the significant amount of unknown individuals all over the world in Online Courses registrations make it impossible to individually grade and provide feedback to learners.  How to handle assessments or give proper credentials in this whole new paradigm? Moreover, one of the most important skills of a teacher, that sensibly impact motivation,would be his ability to encourage and value a student’s efforts when he or she walks out of the comfort zone and works on these weaknesses. Research made by Lucas (1990), Weinert and Kluwe (1987) show that several styles could be employed by the teachers to encourage students to become self motivated independent learners [7] .Then, would giving frequent positive feedbacks in digital online courses enhance students’ motivation and keep them from quitting?

[1] Roffe, I. (2004).Innovation and e-learning: E-business for an educational enterprise. Car-diff, UK: University of Wales Press.

[2] Verduin, J. R., & Clark, T. A. (1991) Distance education. Oxford, UK: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

[3] 2015 Distance Education and the Evolution of Online Learning in the United States, Hope Kentnor

[4] Allen, I. E, & Seaman, J. (2011). Going the distance: Online education in the United States. The Online Learning Consortium.

[5] Dhawal, S. (2018), “A Product at Every Price: A Review of MOOC Stats and Trends in 2017”, Class Central.

[6] Chauhan, A. (2014). Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS): Emerging trends in assessment and accreditation. Digital Education Review, 25(1), 7–18.

[7] Barberos, A. R.-M., Gozalo, A., & Padayogdog, E. (2017). THE EFFECT OF THE TEACHER’S TEACHING STYLE ON STUDENTS’ MOTIVATION. NYU Steinhardt, Department of Teaching and Learning.

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