This MOOC came to my attention a month or so ago and it struck me as particularly interesting. We’d talked previously in class about the effectiveness of the MOOC and the concerns and questions it raises about best practices in teaching, but I don’t think that at that point, anyone had talked about the existence of a composition or writing-based course.
I glanced over it again last night, after our discussion on peer review in the classroom and how to structure effective peer reviews– modeling, the amount of time given to sections of papers, whether students should be paired or put in groups, and so forth. The FAQ section states that this MOOC goes as far as to give peer reviewers the authority of being the only feedback they will receive on their writing and the basis of the grade in the course (and presumably, the verification of completion necessary to receive the Statement of Accomplishment).
I feel like this not only complicates the model of the MOOC, with peer review based assessment and composition as a topic, but also assumes a lot about peer review. Is it even remotely possible that several hours of lectures on MOOCs could make a peer so effective that their feedback is the basis of the grade? Online peer review has been immensely more complicated than in class review for my students this semester; coordinating emails and communication has been challenging and it becomes near impossible when students withdraw from the course or don’t “show” for a week when a peer review is expected. When peer review is online AND the basis for assessment of performance throughout a class AND the completion rate of these courses is so low, is there any way that this can possibly work? Or is this just an experiment in (a potentially colossal) teaching/education failure?