There are three types of assignments in this course: pre-class assignments, network participation, and course projects.


Pre-Class Assignments

For each week of the course, the instructional team has curated a series of readings, media, and activities. Some of these assignments are “Required,” and we ask that you complete them before class meeting so we have a series of shared texts. Some of these assignments encourage you to fall down the “Rabbit Hole,” additional opportunities for deep investigations of particular topics.

Several times throughout the semester, you will be asked to peer evaluate another student’s assignment submission.


Network Participation

As part of this class, you will be asked to contribute to an online learning network that exists on the open Web. Your task in participating in this network is threefold: 1) to enhance your own learning, 2) to enhance the learning experience of colleagues, and 3) to enhance the learning experiences of other communities that you care about.  Your participation in these networks will be in public online spaces, such as Twitter, WordPress, and Flickr. We will aggregate and syndicate your activities at one of the course websites:

You will determine how best to participate in this network, balancing your interests and needs and the needs of the community. If I define an overly specific and prescriptive list of ways to participate in the network, then you will all do the same thing, your efforts will be duplicative, and the results will both boring and not particularly suited to your needs. So, individually and as a community, we need to find meaningful ways to participate in the network. Some students might commit to curating and sharing additional readings. Some students might liveblog each session and post their notes. Some might group together and start a webinar series with guest experts. Some might write reflective posts about readings. Some might form study groups or birds-of-a-feather groups, and share their discussion or reading notes. Some folks might do nothing but comment on other peoples work, drawing links and connections. Some might host a regular twitter chat. Someone might do a weekly write-up of the top 5 community produced pieces of the week. Some might create summaries of weekly learning that are focused on serving communities outside our own, like a school or industry that you plan to return to after graduation.

To help guide your efforts, several weeks into the course you will devise a rubric for yourself that you will use to self-evaluate your participation in our network. You will revise this rubric a few weeks later after you have more experience participating. At the end of the semester, you will grade yourself on this rubric, and write a reflective essay synthesizing your contributions and reflecting on what you learned from participating.

Several sessions of class will be devoted to helping students develop the technological skills to participate effectively in an online network, so social media novices should find themselves very well supported.  Students will leave T509-Massive with the ability to participate in networked online communities and to effectively disseminate and share their ideas and questions.

Important:Public participation in this network is a required feature of the course. You may choose to participate pseudonymously, but it is impossible to have an immersive learning experience about networked online learning without public participation.


Course Project

 All students will complete a semester long course project, that should require about 3-4 hours of work during the semester. The project experience is designed to let students explore some facet of large-scale online learning in detail. Students will propose a rubric for their project evaluation at the end of September, will revise that project rubric and provide an update at the end of October, will have a project presentation at the end of November, and submit the final project and a reflective essay in December.

Projects will come in two flavors: partnerships and individual projects. Ideally, projects will have the possibility


Partnerships and structure projects

The instructional team has developed relationships with partners at HarvardX, MIT, and edX to provide some exciting learning experiences for students. Partners within these institutions have been asked to develop outlines for projects that are intellectually engaging and scoped appropriately for a semester’s worth of work. Because of the moment we find ourselves in and the shape of the edtech scene in Boston, these opportunities lean more towards MOOCs than other large-scale learning environments. (One of the goals of this course is to help students build connections with these institutions in Boston that might lead to winter/spring internships or future career opportunities). In the first weeks of class, we’ll provide more specific information about the exact projects, but here are some examples.

Course Development: Course teams at Harvard, MIT, and edX will invite students to participate in the development of new courses or new elements of currently running courses. 

Course Evaluation: Course teams at Harvard, MIT, and edX will engage students in the systematic evaluation of particular elements of a course, gauging student reactions, identifying comparable approaches in other learning environments, and making recommendations for future iterations of a course.

Qualitative Research: There is an urgent need for more observational and interview research with students participating in HarvardX courses and MOOCs, to better understand student learning experiences that are not tracked by learning management systems.

Quantitative Research: [Statistics or Computer Science Background Required] For students with developing or established skills in data analysis, there will be opportunities to engage in research on one of several de-identified datasets of HarvardX learner data.

Developing New Assessment Items: [Javascript Experience Required] For students with some experience writing in Javascript, there may be an opportunity to develop, refine, and pilot new types of assessment items for HarvardX and the edX platform.



Independent Projects

Students may also propose an independently designed course project.  These might be of the following kinds:

Course or Platform Critique: Students would select a small number of online courses (such as a trio of courses on poetry or computer science) or learning platforms (such as a trio of interest-based learning communities for artists) and then craft an essay or video essay offering a substantive comparison and critique of the platform and pedagogy, highlighting strengths and offering suggestions for improvement.

Course Design: Students design a module or short course, ideally for delivery in the near-term to a real group of learners. Students would provide an outline for an entire course and prototype 1-2 units.

Policy Brief: Students write a policy brief for a school community or state regulatory agency to respond to policy issues emerging with delivering and accrediting online learning experiences. Ideally, the brief would have implications for a real audience and context.

Other: Students may propose an alternative project.