Comparing MOOCs - Block 2, Activity 14

I like the idea of digital story telling, so I am going to look at the offerings of DS106 (Digital Storytelling 106) and compare that to courses and structures of Udacity, FutureLearn and Coursera. We are supposed to compare and contrast the technology, pedagogy and, general approach & philosophy.

DS106 is a kind of ‘one-trick-pony’ – but what a trick! In 15 weeks you get to learn how to use digital tools to help tell your story in engaging ways that could be used for marketing; sales pitches; not for profit stories; educational assignments; advocacy groups; just for fun. Right on the home page the course is presented, of course as digital stories, mostly embedded videos. The technology has moving banners, looped self loading animations to catch the eye but not overwhelm it. The page loads relatively quickly albeit in a fast ADSL broadband link.

The other three look positively spartan and even ‘boring’ compared to DS106. The most bleak is FutureLearn with no apparent incentive for the casual browsing person to stay long on the page.

Udacity is a relatively niche MOOC that caters to students wanting to train in IT related subjects. The general philosophy is clearly to train for a career in IT professions, in particular companies like Amazon, or Google. It’s clean, straight forward and two large buttons announce that you can either take ‘free’ courses or dive into an ‘accelerated’ programme (‘Nanodegree’ programme). Clearly the part that one pays money to.

Future Learn has the ‘worst’ interface, the longest loading time and one has to search around to figure out that they do have courses that range across a far wider range than either DS106 and Udacity. The courses are offered but the approach seems to be more about promoting the university that is offering the course. In other words it comes across as a bit of a billboard for other universities.

The ‘Big Daddy’ in the room is Coursera. It has the largest offering of programmes, and the page seems to load quicker and with more relevant information for the browsing user. The approach of Coursera seems to be the most genuine of the larger MOOCs in trying to offer genuine educational opportunities for free without trying ‘to sell you something’ – that feeling comes from both FutureLearn and Udacity.

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.  -Will Durant