Watch either:

Write down in short bullet point form a list of

  • elements of the Saylor or xMOOC approach that you think could be applicable to your context (what you’re involved in teaching, to whom, with what goals and constraints)
  • problems you might anticipate with the approach

Considerations for delivery of an online course in Minecraft for Educators

The Saylor approach to delivery of content does rely heavily on text based information in its modules with little interaction. The programmes are designed to be stand alone with little interaction with other learners and tested via MCQs at the end of the module. This is largely a didactic, behaviourist approach to learning suggesting that all the learner has to do is to be exposed to the knowledge to absorb it and then regurgitate it at the end of the module. Students tend to perform better when there is interaction with other learners. Picciano (2002) has shown that low levels of interaction on an online programmes of study produces poorer results in written assignments compared to students with high levels of interaction on a module. DeTure (2004) suggested that is isn’t the levels of interaction that determine the individual’s success but their self-efficacy that will determine their completion and ultimately their success. However her findings were inconclusive and she states,

“Cognitive style scores and online technologies self-efficacy scores were poor predictors of student success in online distance education courses.” DeTure (2004)

I think that the Saylor approach is not really suitable for my course for the above reasons. I did reflect on the MOOC approach as well and felt that there were much more similarities in the way in which I want to deliver my programme.

So do students perform better when enrolled on to a fully immersive course like a MOOC? Not according to Hawksey (2014). The ocTEL 2104 course is a MOOC that started with a large number of participants n=333 but had reduced to n=58 participants by the end week of the course in week 6. The graph in the article shows the typical spike of early adopters which quickly tails off to a lower, but constant level, of participants. Hawksey goes on to discuss what makes a student wish to engage with a MOOC citing Digital Badges and the ability to be self-directed learners as being the key drivers for participation.

The subject matter in my own course allows me to create screencasts of my Minecraft tasks and worlds. I can then set assignments in MineCraft that the students can log in to the world and to begin to build and create. Using this model, I can have students create buildings and projects and post the coordinates in a forum to set up peer review opportunities.. I would then want to award badges based on peer review and reflection that could be transferred to the Mozilla Backpack to increase engagement and continue participation to the end of the course. I am thinking of several platforms that would allow me to do this.

  • WordPress
  • CourseEra
  • Canvas Instructure

Participation drop off is always an issue. There is real potential for the number of students participating in the course to drop to such a low level that there is little or no interaction opportunities for the learner. Of course there is also the risk that the number of initial participants might not be high enough to generate the same interaction. Therefore the elements of the Saylor Foundation project that I will use and build on are the ability for the student to work without interactions should the need arise. They need to be able to complete the course if the course number should reach n=1. I will have to bear this in mind when setting tasks and establish how the assessment of the course and the awarding of the badges would be managed if this was the point.

Of course, the lower the numbers, the easier it is for the lecturer to get involved as there are less students and therefore less marking, awarding of badges and comments. But what is the tipping point? 10? 20? 50? 100?  I don’t have enough experience to be able to predict what this point is and I suspect that each course would be different as some learners are more demanding/active than others.


Oh… I didn’t do a bullet list.

  • Create learning opportunities that do not require other participants
  • Mix up assessment to include some MCQs
  • Develop interactive and immersive experiences that engage the learner
  • Produce reward system to motivate and encourage participation
  • Develop communities of learning based on common themes.


DeTure, M (2004) Cognitive Style and Self-Efficacy: Predicting Student Success in Online Distance Education, American Journal of Distance Education, 18:1, 21-38, DOI: 10.1207/s15389286ajde1801_3 Last accessed 20/6/2014.

Hawskey, M. (2014). Evaluating ocTEL 2013 with this year: What do the numbers tell us?. Available: Last accessed 20/6/2014.

Hawskey, M. (2014). What influenced participants level of engagement in ocTEL?. Available: Last accessed 20/6/2014.


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