Introducing the Feed-Forward xMOOC (Intro Psych Edition)

Flickr: Gamma Man

What is the Feed-forward xMOOC? 

The Feed-forward xMOOC is a pretty simple concept. Take existing OER and OCW. Put it in an LMS framework, adding small quizzes, in-video questions, reading assignments, discussion questions, peer assessments. Set it up on a schedule, serialized week-to-week like an ordinary course.

Then let people use it, for whatever they want, however they want.

Is this an idea or a real thing? 

It’s a real thing. We are halfway done building a Feed-Forward xMOOC for Intro Psych, based on some older Yale OpenCourseWare.

Check it out. [Seriously, check it out]

What do you do with a Feed-forward xMOOC?  

The Feed-forward xMOOC is not considered to be a complete product. It is there waiting for you — the professor, student, expert, or coder — to extend it. Unlike most xMOOCs on the “market” you are encouraged to do the following:

  • Wrap a face-to-face experience around it. Create a class around the xMOOC. Have students take it, and meet them in the seminar room once a week to talk about  it. Or via Google Hangout. Or build a project-based learning experience that uses the xMOOC to handle fundamentals that are reinforced through authentic, campus based tasks.
  • Wrap a cMOOC around it. The most likely future of the xMOOC is to become the chewy center of the cMOOC. You can wait for the xMOOC providers to figure that out, or you can do it today, yourself. (Could you wrap a ds106 around it, too? I think so. Try it!)
  • Run your own competing MOOC. Honestly. I use phrases like “back-of-the-envelope solution” and talk about “VCRs” in class discussions. I get so dorkily into interesting statistical problems that many students believe I must be high. In other words, there’s a lot of people out there that do a better job of connecting with 18 and 19 year old students than I do. If I’m running a MOOC and you can run a better MOOC with my stuff, you should.
  • Export it out, and experiment on your lonesome. Seriously. It’s built in Canvas, so you can import directly into another Canvas installation or account, and edit away. Even more importantly, it exports to Common Cartridge, and while there are some oddities of transfer, all content in it can be ported out. Just drop it in a class and use it on your own as a big learning object. It’s all good.
  • Blend it with another subject. Take our Intro Psych xMOOC. Slash it down to basics and drop it into your behavioral economics course. Share it back out, and make the world a better place.

I think you get the point.

Can’t I already do this with existing xMOOCs?  

Nope, you can’t. Here’s Coursera on the question of MOOC-wrapping:

You may not take any Online Course offered by Coursera or use any Letter of Completion as part of any tuition-based or for-credit certification or program for any college, university, or other academic institution without the express written permission from Coursera. Such use of an Online Course or Letter of Completion is a violation of these Terms of Use.

You can wrap it — if you like lawsuits. Here’s Udacity on reuse of their “open” course:

All content or other material available on the Class Sites or through the Online Courses, including but not limited to on-line lectures, speeches, video lessons, quizzes, presentation materials, homework assignments, programming assignments, programs, code, and other images, text, layouts, arrangements, displays, illustrations, documents, materials, audio and video clips, HTML and files (collectively, the “Content”), are the property of Udacity and/or its affiliates or licensors and are protected by copyright, patent and/or other proprietary intellectual property rights under United States and foreign law.

Again, “openness” here is the freedom to take their course at no cost, provided you don’t use it in ways they don’t like. It’s no more “open” than Gmail or LinkedIn.

I won’t go into my standard rant here, but this shift is the big story people are missing about xMOOCs — how a decade of progress in open education is being enclosed, and leaving us with an inferior product with a broken conception of openness.

The Feed-forward xMOOC is an attempt to fix this.

OK, I get why this is important now. But is this more Caulfield vaporware? Like the Open-source Simulations of 2009? 

Nope. Again: check this out — a band of people and I are about halfway through constructing a beta Intro to Psychology course out of Open Yale Courses video and elbow grease. We have booked Dr. Larry Welkowitz to teach it Summer 2013 for Keene State. But if you wanted to use it for Spring semester, it’s looking like it will be ready in a couple weeks. You should use it!

Also, the Open-source simulations would have been awesome.

What’s the Roadmap/Schedule for this thing look like? 

Here’s the tentative schedule for the Intro Psychology course.

0.1 All videos chopped up into smaller 5-15 min segments, modularized, embedded and arranged in Canvas.  (Done as of today)

0.2 All video quizzes added, some content gaps addressed (Nov. 30)

0.3 Readings and reading quizzes integrated (Dec. 8)

0.4 Summative assessments and projects added, most content gaps addressed (Dec. 15)

0.5-0.99 Beta-testing (feature complete, ready for class use by the adventurous) (Jan 2013)

1.0 Full release (Build-your-own peer version) (Summer 2013)

2.0 Peer integration? (Or maybe not — maybe this stays the piece you provide?)

Right now we are working towards 0.2.

We are also working on another course on the psychology and economics of food and food policy (based on lectures by Food Fight author Kelley Brownell). More on that later.

What do you want from me? 

We can get this done ourselves, but we’d love some help. Right now we need

  • Instructional design type people to write fairly simple in-video quizzes
  • Instructional design type people to read the Intro Psych readings and develop simple reading quizzes.
  • Psychology faculty to help us to develop additional formative and summative assessments.

The idea is many hands make light work. Volunteer an hour or two, get assigned specific tasks on a specific module, get listed on the credits, help keep the MOOC revolution open.  Or just do us the honor of using it when we roll it out — that would be the biggest help of all.

If you want to help, email  I’ll find something for you to do.

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