ITiCSE 2016: Applying Validated Pedagogy to MOOCs: An Introductory Programming Course with Media Computation

In our research and our teaching practice we have been exploring new ways of engaging students over a number of years, with a particular interest in active and collaborative learning strategies. In our first EdX MOOC, Think Create Code, we built upon Mark Guzdial’s work in Media Computation and contextualised learning to create an introductory programming MOOC contextualised to the area of image creation, attracting both artists interested in learning to code, as well as programmers interested in learning more about the artistic context, and the specific programming language we were using, Processing.

An analysis of the adaption of validated pedagogy in the MOOC environment, and the specific challenges raised in such environments has been accepted for the upcoming ITICSE 2016 conference, where we will discuss the structure of our MOOC, how we extended Media Computation from Mark’s work, and our own previous work in our first year programming environment, to support contextualised learning in a MOOC environment. We also describe our efforts to integrate elements of collaborative learning at scale, through our creation of open, shared art galleries, where students are able to comment and reflect on the work of others.

K. Falkner, N. Falkner, C. Szabo and R. Vivian. Applying Validated Pedagogy to MOOCs: An Introductory Programming Course with Media Computation. Accepted for ITICSE 2016.

Significant advances have been made in the learning and teaching of Introductory Programming, including the integration of active and contextualised learning pedagogy. However, Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs), where Computer Science and, more specifically, introductory programming courses dominate, do not typically adopt such pedagogies or lessons learned from more traditional learning environments. Moreover, the improvement of learning within the MOOC context in terms of discipline-specific pedagogy, and the improvement of student learning outcomes and processes have not been studied in depth.

This paper reports findings from a foundation programming skills MOOC that supports the learning of fundamental Computer Science concepts and the development of programming skills through a media computation approach, based upon digital artworks and animations. In this paper, we explore the course activity data as well as a sample of students’ source code submissions to investigate their engagement with the course and the quality and development of their programming skill over the six weeks of the course duration.


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