Survey of MOOC Instructors

Last week, the Chronicle published the results of their survey to professors have taught or are currently teaching a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), highlighting the incredible amount of time it takes to produce and facilitate a quality MOOC. One of UC Davis’ professors, John Owens, is featured in the article:

“[Owens] spent 150 hours building his MOOC, ‘Introduction to Parallel Programming,’ for Udacity. More than 15,000 people registered. Once the course started, he spent about five hours per week on it, posting frequently on the discussion forums.

Although Mr. Owens did not ask for relief from his normal teaching load to make time for his MOOC, he doubts that he would have gotten it if he had asked.

‘It’s out of ‘my own’ time, which is quite limited,’ Mr. Owens reported. ‘So, yes, other areas of my job suffered.’

Most colleges do not yet have a protocol for integrating their instructors’ work on MOOCs into normal faculty work flow. But if the survey responses are any indication of how much work goes into a MOOC, institutions may soon have to figure out how to help professors fit them into their professional lives.

‘It takes an immense amount of work to produce an adequate MOOC,’ said Armando Fox, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California at Berkeley who has co-taught three MOOCs for Coursera, ‘and a staggering amount of work to produce a really good one.’

Mr. Owens, for one, said he did not plan to teach another MOOC until his bosses reduce his classroom teaching load to give time for it. The continuing participation of top faculty members in massive online courses, he said, will depend on whether their colleges are willing to let MOOCs distract them from their traditional duties.

At that point, Mr. Owens said, campus officials will need to ask themselves whether they want to give that faculty time to online students, ’99 percent of whom who are not at their universities.'”

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