I co-taught two offerings of a 6-week, experimental, big online course (BOC) with Alberto Cairo through the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. Both offerings of “Data Visualization and Infographics with D3” filled completely with 500 participants each. Alberto covered design principles and process of infographics, while my portion introduced D3 and the technical concepts needed to implement web-based visualizations.
Although the Knight Center has offered massive open online courses (MOOCs) before, to great success, the massive scale (5,000+ students) results in only very rare individual interaction with the instructor. Historically, the MOOCs have also been offered free of charge, increasing their accessibility to a wider audience, but also indirectly limiting student commitment, engagement, and completion rates. Our experiment with the BOCs, then, was to increase engagement, student/instructor interaction, and successful learning by limiting enrollment to only 500 participants and charging a nominal fee ($95), in keeping with the Knight Center’s mission to provide free or very low cost training to journalists.
Data from the first offering of the course indicates we achieved some success, with a 34% completion rate, whereas previous MOOCs averaged 6-8%. The charts on this page represent survey feedback from that first offering, and indicate a generally positive, valued experience. I am interested in further experiments that can increase student/instructor interaction, as, even with 500 participants, we certainly we not able to respond to every question or participate in every discussion.
This fall, I will be offering a new, 4-week BOC, “Intermediate D3 for Data Visualization” from October 26 to November 22, 2015. This course picks up where the first course left off, and is for people eager to gain additional skills with D3. Registration is now open.
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