I have recently wrapped up my spring ’13 semester at GWU.  This semester I took Educational Policy (EDUC 6371) and Computers in Education and Human Development (EDUC 6402).  The celebration didn’t last long however because by the time I caught my breath the summer semester had already began, but that is for another post.

This semester had a nice balance to it because I was studying educational leadership strategies and educational software and training programs, two very different fields.  The textbook that was used for Educational Policy was Public Policymaking by James E. Anderson.  The text can be rather dry at times but it provides a solid foundation for this complex subject.  One thing Anderson does well is provide real world case studies at the end of each chapter.  These studies help illustrate the concepts presented and also show how real policies are created and applied.

The major assignment for Educational Policy was a semester long group project.  Our group was asked to examine the state of mental health in Minnesota and formulate a constrained and unconstrained policy proposal to reform mental health education.  The proposal needed to be as realistic as possible, which was extremely daunting at first, especially when you are in charge of the budget.  It took many long nights to finish, but it was definitely worth it since I was able to learn so much.  This type of assignment allows you to really tackle these abstract policy ideas and make them real and concrete.  Thanks again to all my group members.  I really hope we have another opportunity to work together again.  Go UN!

Computers in Education and Human Development provided the technical and software side to the semester.  Each week we examined a different topic within the field of educational technology, from theories and models of instructional design to augmented reality and game-based learning.  The textbook we used was Trends & Issues in Instructional Design and Technology by Reiser, and what I enjoyed the most about it was its presentation of the history of our profession and it’s comfortable flow of writing.  I would recommend it to anyone starting out in instructional design and who is looking to learn the process of designing, delivering and evaluating online instruction.

One of the assignments was a group book report on Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology And Less From Each Other by MIT professor Sherry Turkle.  The book was promising at first but failed to really deliver on anything of substantial importance.  It did however allow my group to have some very satisfying conversations on the topics of artificial intelligence and the influence emerging technologies are having on our notions of community, privacy and interconnectedness.  Once again I had the privilege of working with two excellent group members, whom I hope to remain in contact as we progress through the ETL program.

The final assignment for EDUC 6402 was a research paper on a topic of our choosing.  I decided to focus on the obstacles and challenges that are preventing MOOCs from becoming a truly reliable and powerful teaching tool.  My paper examines the high student-to-teacher ratio in  MOOCs, the use of plagiarism detection software (PDS) to preventing cheating, the high dropout rate, lack of proper revenue generation for the universities and finally uncertainty of academic acceptance and acknowledgement by future employers.  I’ve attached a link to an article that further explores the uncertain future of MOOCs.

8 Questions MOOCs Face in 2013

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