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Sharing Tokyo Tech’s “Deep Earth Science” MOOC @ American Geophysical Union Fall 2016 Meeting

January 10, 2017



Hi. My name is Shoh and I am a 2nd year master course student in the department of earth and planetary sciences. I belonged to the Deep Earth Science (DES) MOOC making team as a teaching assistant (TA) and this gave me a wonderful opportunity to share experiences in this blog post with support of the Online Education Development Office (OEDO).

From December 12 to 16, two TAs, Yoshiyuki, another Deep Earth Science TA, and I attended the “American Geophysical Union Fall 2016 meeting” and made meeting presentations. Around 25,000 people joined the conference, which is the largest meeting held in the field of geophysics. We made three presentations in the educational sessions including one in the “Students’ pop-up talks”. We presented on the following topics which includes a brief outline:
1)    Utilizing a MOOC as an education and outreach tool for geoscience: case study from Tokyo Tech’s MOOC on “Deep Earth Science”
“What are geoscience MOOC learners’ motivations? What is a good strategy to address them?” We felt that this was the most difficult question for a curiosity-based MOOC (not skill-based MOOC) during our course editing. From our experiences, because of variety of learners’ motivations and background of learners, a geoscience MOOC should be simple to understand and allow learners to follow their progress based upon gaining essential knowledge, but at the same time it needs to cover a variety of topics. For this aim, we (the TAs) created the contents by collaborating with the instructor and the OEDO staff. We presented our experience as a case study based upon creating the MOOC and offering it on edX.
2)    Geophysics education on the Internet: Course production and assessment of our MOOC, “Deep Earth Science”
In this poster presentation, we showed an assessment of our course using detailed data such as learners’ background, motivation, favorite content, and our production methods. Then, we shared effective ways to update the MOOC content.
3)    Students’ Pop-up talks
We introduced our “Community TA” system used in DES. In this MOOC, two graduate students from UC Berkeley joined as moderators of discussion boards and communicated with learners. According to their experience, joining the discussion boards is a good way to satisfy learners’ curiosity and for future faculty development.

Making these presentations were difficult for us, and we felt really nervous before giving these presentations but were really honored that we can share ideas and discussed our experience at the meeting. I felt many participants at the conference were interested in MOOC and course production with TAs. During our one year project, we encountered many challenges and got over them by cooperating with each other. We started this project as a small group, which was like a small boat on the ocean being battered by waves. Finally, we delivered our course to thousands of learners all over the world and shared our experiences about our planet. The original MOOC has been revised and is currently accepting new students.

I will graduate from TokyoTech next spring. I sincerely look forward to the prosperity of OEDO not only as a MOOC provider, but also as a base for students to experience learning by teaching, which brings together students from across all fields to collaborate and broaden their horizons. I really thank OEDO and everyone concerned who helped us as we prepared the MOOC, MOOC learners for comments and questions. I am so grateful to have had this wonderful opportunity to participate in this MOOC making team and will never forget it.

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