MIT Massive mid-term assignments

Updated Participation Rubric

Personal Compass:

Broadly, I decided to take this class because I am interested in “learning science” (the study of learning) and I would like to be a better teacher. More specifically, I am interested in learning more about cMOOCs, which I know very little about, and in learning about the pedagogies and pitfalls of learning technologies designed to scale. I hope that if I have the opportunity to design curriculum for a MOOC or develop a learning technology intended to scale massively, that this course will provide me with the tools to be successful in that endeavor (or at least more successful than I would’ve been without the class).

Participation Commitments:

I plan to read news articles on education related topics and to share them (and my interpretation of them) with my classmates. I plan to stay active on Twitter over the course of class, and hopefully continue to use it after the class ends. In addition to sharing my thoughts, I’ve already found some new people to follow through whom I’ve found some interesting articles. I also plan to blog, on topics related to the course and topics not directly related to the course, and will share my writing with my classmates. I hope to participate in some online communities beyond the direct purview of the course (Twitter, blog) as well. I hope to read the work of my classmates, discuss with them, and form working relationships that last beyond the end of the course.

Participation so far:

I feel that I have been fairly active in course participation so far. Perhaps less than I could be during the actual lecture hours, but I’ve taken good advantage of the online technologies we’re using in order to better “walk the walk” of learning at scale. I’ve had some back and forth with classmates on Twitter, although I haven’t interacted with many people outside the MIT Massive community. I think the most successful piece of my participation so far has been sharing thoughts through blog posts, of which I written half a dozen or so. Some posts are directly related to MIT Massive, while some are more tangentially related. I’ve enjoyed sharing my thoughts through the medium and it feels rewarding that I’ve gotten some comments, indicating that I’ve given people something to think about. I’m not sure how active I’ll stay after the course in all of the ways I’m participating now, but I do expect to keep blogging semi-regularly.

What I’ve learned:

If you believe that someone can truly learn something by reading about it (as opposed to experiencing it, or building something from it), then up to this point in the semester I’ve learned about the different types of learning at scale. I’ve learned that teacher-directed learning at scale (L@S) has some great examples of success, but that on aggregate it currently mostly serves students who already have access to the best educational resources. I’ve learned that while self-directed L@S is sometimes touted as a magical new panacea, it’s essential enabling technologies are decades old. I’ve learned about peer-directed L@S and I am most excited about its prospects, although I wonder how it can be better used to teach foundational curriculum (the traditional topics that are required in primary and secondary education). If you believe in learning by doing, then I have begun to learn how to connect with the community through writing tweets and blog posts.

What I hope to accomplish through the end of the course:

The main piece that I hope to accomplish through the end of the course is connecting more with my classmates. While I’ve had some conversations through Twitter and short discussions in class, nothing feels like it really “stuck” in the sense that I left the interaction feeling like I had a significantly deeper understanding of the topic at hand. I think the challenge is that writing is time consuming, and if both parties aren’t deeply interested in the topic, then the thread will be cut short due to lack of effort/input on one side. It’s easy for me to write long blog posts about things I care about, but unless someone else also cares deeply about the topic, I wouldn’t expect a long response from them. I’m not sure how to address this yet, but I’ll continue probing it in the following weeks.

Participation Rubric

Criteria Exceeds Expectation Meets Expectation Underperforms Expectation
Read, share, and share thoughts on education articles Share 2+ articles per week, including blogging on my thoughts/reactions to them Share ~1 article per week, sometimes including thoughts/reactions Share < 1 article per week, without discussing why I found it interesting
Be an active Twitter user Share resources through Twitter, have dialogues through Twitter, participate in Twitter chats Use Twitter to find interesting articles and to share quick thoughts on resources I find Limited Twitter use by the end of the course
Blog actively Write high quality blog posts on a diverse range of topics (akin to Matt Might at Utah) Write ~weekly blog posts on topics related to the course (e.g., response to an educational article) Write a small number of blog posts, none of which are particularly in depth
Explore Instructables or a similar online community Post my own DIY project to instructables and write about the experience Try to build one or two DIY projects and write about the experience Explore DIY projects on the site without actually undertaking any of them myself
Get involved in a cMOOC such as ds106 Start open ds106 in earnest, getting a good start so I can work through all the assignments over the summer Participate in some of the daily creates offered by ds106 Have no continued involvement with cMOOCs after my initial exploration
Engage with classmates Leave the class having developed prospective collaborations with other students in the class Read classmates’ work, comment on it, and dialogue with them through the end of the course and beyond Occasionally read classmates’ work, occasionally leave short comments
Expand understanding of CBE (annotated bibliography assignment) Publish academic paper related to CBE (although this would like occur long after the course was completed) Learn about CBE and write a report or long form article on what I’ve learned (likely during the summer) Learn about CBE, but create no significant content on the topic myself



Annotated Bibliography (work in progress)

This is a collection of references I’ve put together related to competency based education (CBE) along with some notes on what information is included in each reference. The annotations might not be all that useful to other people, they’re basically my personal notes. However, for anyone interested in CBE (who is as uninitiated as I am), you may find some helpful resources here.


Chyung, Seung Youn, Donald Stepich, and David Cox. “Building a competency-based curriculum architecture to educate 21st-century business practitioners.” Journal of Education for Business 81.6 (2006): 307-314.

This article discusses applying CBE to curriculum design, in this particular case for business education. The paper provides a nice background to definitions of CBE and terms within CBE. They argue for definition of competencies within each field: “the generic dictionary scales are applicable to all jobs and none precisely.” The paper provides a framework/flow-chart for how one particular program developed a CBE-based curriculum for “Information and Performance Technology.”


Frank, Jason R., et al. “Toward a definition of competency-based education in medicine: a systematic review of published definitions.” Medical teacher 32.8 (2010): 631-637.

This paper seeks to establish a clear, widely accepted definition of CBE within the medical field, which they approached by reviewing the medical literature on CBE (as well as searching Google). Four major themes within definitions of CBE are identified: organizing framework, rationale, contrast with time, and implementing CBE. Their proposed definition of CBE is as follows: “Competency-based education (CBE) is an approach to preparing physicians for practice that is fundamentally oriented to graduate outcome abilities and organized around competencies derived from an analysis of societal and patient needs. It deemphasizes time-based training and promises greater accountability, flexibility, and learner-centredness.”


Hamilton, Neil W., and Sarah Schaefer. “What Legal Education Can Learn from Medical Education About Competency-Based Learning Outcomes Including Those Related to Professional Formation (Professionalism).” (2015).

This report discusses CBE’s adoption in the medical field in the context of how their lessons can help CBE in law (which adopted CBE later). One of the main takeaways are that core competencies of being a doctor were identified (professionalism, patient care and procedural skills, medical knowledge, etc.) and that these competencies are assessable. Another main takeaway was the idea of the “hidden curriculum”: that much of what medical students learn is not in lectures or didactics, but through interaction with attending physicians in rotations at hospitals and clinics. If the hidden curriculum doesn’t support the stated curriculum, it undermines the authority of the stated curriculum as representing the field’s true best interests.


Hodge, Steven. “The origins of competency-based training.” Australian journal of adult learning 47.2 (2007): 179.

This paper discusses the “societal” and “theoretical” origins of CBT. CBT arose in the US in the 50s, 60s, and 70s due to societal trends towards accountability and personalization. Apparently Sputnik was the impetus, and fear of Soviet technological superiority spurred the federal government to play a larger role in education and training. The key theoretical influences on CBT were behavioral psychology (due to competencies being observable behaviors) and systems theory (training as system). The paper also discusses specific theoretical contributions to CBT.


Jamieson, Lynn M. “Competency-Based Approaches to Sport Management.” Journal of Sport Management 1.1 (1987).

This paper discusses the require competencies of sport managers/professionals (not to be confused with athletes). Competencies for such a position are in areas such as business procedures, communications, facility/maintenance, governance, legality, management techniques, etc. This paper’s analysis of CBE in sports management uses a lot of Likert scoring and statistics, but is not particularly insightful with respect to CBE, I thought CBE applied to a relatively unique field would be more interesting.


Jones, Elizabeth A., and Richard A. Voorhees. “Defining and Assessing Learning: Exploring Competency-Based Initiatives. Report of the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative Working Group on Competency-Based Initiatives in Postsecondary Education. Brochure [and] Report.” (2002).

[to be annotated]


Malan, S. P. T. “The ‘new paradigm’ of outcomes-based education in perspective.” Journal of Family Ecology and Consumer Sciences/Tydskrif vir Gesinsekologie en Verbruikerswetenskappe 28.1 (2000).

This paper reviews the roots of OBE and attempts to put recent efforts in perspective. OBE is an approach to education where the focus is on successful demonstrations of learning sought: where the “what” and “whether” of learning is more important than the “when” and “how.” OBE dates back to the middle ages (craft guilds). CBE was big in the US in the 60s, and was based on six components: explicit learning outcomes, flexible time frame, varied teaching activities, criterion-referenced assessment, certification based demonstrations, and adaptable programs. The author argues that calling OBE a paradigm shift is overselling it, as there is insufficient research base to verify the claims of OBE, and that OBE is not fundamentally different paradigmatically from traditional educational approaches. OBE is discussed as a transformational (rather than transmissive) approach. OBE uses performance-based and authentic assessment strategies within the context of criterion-referenced assessment, which must integrate knowledge, skills and values.


Miller, Gregory E. “The assessment of clinical skills/competence/performance.” Academic medicine 65.9 (1990): S63-7.

[to be annotated]


Mueller, Paul S. “Incorporating professionalism into medical education: the Mayo Clinic experience.” The Keio journal of medicine 58.3 (2009): 133-143. APA

This paper discusses professionalism as a core physician competency. The paper claims that professionalism can be taught, learned and assessed (as opposed to being an intrinsic personal characteristic) and it is critical to do so as part of the education of certified medical professionals. As they argue that assessment of professionalism is critical, the authors also discuss methods for formative and summative assessment.


Scalese, Ross J., Vivian T. Obeso, and S. Barry Issenberg. “Simulation technology for skills training and competency assessment in medical education.” Journal of general internal medicine 23.1 (2008): 46-49.

This paper discusses the use of simulations in medical education and assessment, which has become more common partially due to a larger focus recently on competencies. They look at three types of simulations in particular: part task trainers, computer-enhanced mannequins, and virtual reality simulators. These technologies can help faculty save time and give students educational opportunities without exposing patients to novice practitioners. They also allow a proactive rather than ad hoc educational process (do whatever procedure needs doing at the time). In addition to benefits associated with teaching, simulations offer strong opportunities for assessment of competency.


Voorhees, Richard A. “Competency‐Based learning models: A necessary future.” New directions for institutional research 2001.110 (2001): 5-13.

This paper (chapter?) discusses the basic ideas of CBL as well as their potential to be implemented in higher education. Includes the popular pyramid diagram describing the relationships between competencies and other pieces in the conceptual learning model of CBE. The chapter discusses bundling and unbundling of competencies for different contexts. Competencies should be transparent, unambiguous and measurable. I should probably see if I can get a copy of the book from the library to do a more in depth reading.

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