Before you roll your eyes at another MOOC story, consider this: An Ohio community college has developed a math MOOC not for its students, but for its local high school students. Why? To get more students math-ready before they come to campus.
It’s an interesting take on the Massive Open Online Course, which — for all its fanfare — still hasn’t seemed to have developed a scalable, sustainable model worth replicating. But administrators at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland have found a way to use a MOOC to their advantage.
On paper, we know that the national remediation rate for two-year colleges is 43 percent (the percentage of students who are taking non-credit-bearing courses because they have not qualified for college-level work). Anecdotally, we hear that those rates can surpass 50 percent. At Cuyahoga, or Tri-C as it’s known, 38 to 44 percent of first-year students (depending on the campus) are enrolled in math remediation courses. (For English, rates range from 22 to 27 percent.)
So Tri-C developed the math MOOC, targeting local high schools most likely to produce Tri-C students. Of course, the MOOC is open to anyone who needs extra help in math.
Tri-C faculty members are the brains behind the MOOC. Start-up funds came from a $50,000 Gates Foundation grant. The faculty built the course around Open Educational Resources and online videos from Khan Academy and TeacherTube. They chose CourseSites and Open Study to host the course. “We built a quality course; we’re not just going to throw content out there,” says Charles (Chuck) Dull, Tri-C’s assistant dean of eLearning and innovation, who spoke at the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges’ annual meeting this week.
The MOOC has four levels, and students have to demonstrate 80 percent mastery before moving onto the next level. (Insider scoop: Some Tri-C staffers had trouble making it past Level 2! Don’t scoff; when was the last time you did long division?) After completing each level, students receive Mozilla Open Badges certifying that they have mastered the content.
The key here is that the MOOC is a no-risk opportunity — as Dull Says, a “fail-safe environment”— for students; and it could save them time and money toward their credentials. And for Tri-C, officials hope it will lead to lower remedial rates.
The community college started offering the course last month. Already 143 students are enrolled.
Photo Credit: Cuyahoga Community College