Jeffrey Bartholet. Student Poll: “I Was Pleasantly Surprised.” Special Report: Learning In The Digital Age. Scientific American (2013) 309:72-73.
I was indeed surprised when I stumbled on this research article, went to read it, noticed the image thumbnail, and thought, “Oh, my goodness, that looks like an infographic!” And it was! We’ve been talking about infographics a lot lately. Our library is talking about the roles we could play as librarians in supporting infographic development for our institution and faculty. There were multiple presentations about infographics at last month’s Medical Library Association Annual Meeting. Also in the past couple months I’ve attended a few presentations about uses of infographics to promote research findings, for marketing, or health literacy outreach. But I had not noticed that infographics have crept into the actual published and printed versions of scholarly research articles!
This one was about MOOCs, which is another interest. I’ve taken (read “lurked in”) several MOOCs, without ever completing one. I have learned useful skills relevant to my job from a MOOC, but when push came to shove between the MOOC and my real life, real life won. Or just feeling tired won. This summer is different. My son and I are taking a MOOC together, watching the videos together, discussing the assignments while we do them. I’m going to be really embarrassed if my son finishes and I don’t. I’ll be even MORE embarrassed if I bomb out and my son takes that as an excuse for him to quit. So I was very interested in this piece of research on how MOOCs are used in science education.
“One in five science students surveyed by Nature and Scientific American has participated in a MOOC—and most would do so again”
It’s worth reading the whole short article. Here are just a couple small snippets highlighting key points.
Stefan Kühn: “I started the course because of personal interest … and was pleasantly surprised when I realized I was using it for my write-ups as well.”
Kathleen Nicoll: “Although some classes try to mimic research experiences in a virtual lab, that cannot substitute ‘for smelling formaldehyde or seeing something almost explode in your face and having to react to that.'”
Kathleen Nicoll: “One of the huge upsides is that MOOCs can reach everyone [with a computer and Internet]—people who are differently abled, people behind bars in prison.”
Jeffrey Bartholet: “Because failure is cost-free in a MOOC, the basic human tendency toward procrastination and sloth are stronger than in traditional classes.”
Shannon Bohle: “I like to share with my friends that I finished the course and hear everyone say, ‘Oh, you’re so brilliant. Kudos to you!'”
It also didn’t hurt my interest at all to hear about what specific courses these students and faculty found useful. I might actually want to take the one recommended by Kühn, Think Again. The infographic itself also contained some surprises. I didn’t realize that any universities were requiring MOOC participation for their residential students! Or maybe I’m misinterpreting that question? It made sense that people find superior career value from taking classes face-to-face. Hard to make a connection in a MOOC that could turn into a person willing to write a letter of reference for you. But it was surprising how the perception of learning value was almost equal! Here’s the infographic – what surprises you?
Image source: Scientific American