We recently announced that Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) won a Gates Foundation grant for the creation of a Developmental Education Math MOOC. Tri-C chose to use CourseSites (powered by Blackboard) as their MOOC platform of choice. We checked with Dr. Charles Dull, Assistant Dean of eLearning and Innovation at Tri-C, to understand their motivation for creating a MOOC and its design goals.
Q: Why did you create a Math MOOC specifically for Developmental Education? Who was the course designed for?
A: The Tri-C Math MOOC was created for multiple audiences, including first generation college students, adult students, and high school students who need to prepare to enter DevEd courses post-graduation. It is also designed for students who need help bringing their math skills to a college-ready level or improving math placement scores by preparing them prior for taking the test. The intent for the MOOC is to allow students to lessen their time spent in remedial coursework by testing into a higher level math than they otherwise would have without taking the MOOC.
Q: How will the creation of this MOOC help you meet your institution-wide goals? A: Our mission is to provide quality, accessible and affordable education. To this end, we are always looking at ways to improve the online learning environment for our students. This MOOC is allowing us to collaborate closely with area high schools to help their students improve on placement tests. Together Tri-C, high school administrators and teachers – both from the College and the high schools – are actively working together to create an engaging, positive and successful outcome for area students.
Q: Can you provide some details on the MOOC? What can students expect?
A: Studies show only 25% of students who must take remedial math courses go on to complete their studies and obtain a degree. Many students in remedial Math are poor Math students, not because they do not have the ability, but because they believe they are “just not good in Math.” With this in mind, Donald Gabriel, one of our award-winning Math Professors came up with the idea of “Believe Island.” This survival theme is designed to help students gain the confidence they need to believe in themselves. It is not just about learning new Math skills, but having a different outlook on what they believe they can accomplish.
Students taking the MOOC course are challenged in a game-like atmosphere where they must conquer angry monkeys, squeezing snakes, low-flying bats, and hungry piranhas as they work through each level of the course. Emphasis is placed on learning via repetition, leading to mastery learning. Like a game, students must achieve a level of success before moving up to the next level. In order to increase motivation for leveling up, a student earns a badge for scores of 80% or better. These badges can be downloaded to the user’s computer or uploaded directly into Mozilla Open Backpack. Students who do score lower than 80% may go back to watch the videos and take the challenge again as many times as is needed until success.
We really wanted to create a course that was fun, motivating and encouraging for students everywhere who need to believe they can conquer Math.