Block 2 Activity 14: Comparing MOOCs


or              2000px-Udacity_Logo.svg … a comparison.


Comparing MOOCs

DS106 Udacity




· Develops creativity and innovation with virtual art through use of digital media.

·  Online bank of over 800 media assignments which are stored in an assignment bank

· The assignment bank is categorised into visual, audio, web, Gig, design, video, mashup, 3D printed, writing and fanfic assignments.

· Reliant on using your own choice of digital technology tools

· Completed assignments are shared within the ds106 site through blogging links using WordPress, Twitter or Google+ for example.

· Online bank of projects

· computer, programming and digital design orientated learning

· Projects include working/learning with android, data science, Georgia Tech Masters in CS, iOS Non-tech, software engineering and web development.

· Each project works with specific technologies ie HTML, python, Github, Sublime …

· Online student resources include use of student blog, help & FAQs support for Android and iOS apps.






· Provides a platform for digital storytelling without limits!

· Work through a programme of work that has previously been part of a full ds106 course taught at University of Mary Washington.

· You choose your route through the course and when you complete it to suit your needs and commitments.

· Assignments come through projects created by others and from which you become creative and innovative with your choice of tool and how you present/share it.

· Share with others through personal blogs and through ds106 blog.

· Learn from others through their tutorials based on their activity choice and approach

· no teacher courses

. For a ‘Nanodegree’ a basic introductory project runs for 190 hours.

· A beginner ‘Free’ project can be completed over 6 weeks.

· Projects support beginner, intermediate and advanced study levels.

· Series of short instructor videos

· Learn by watching video then completing exercises.

· Individual Tutor/instructor support/feedback only available for ‘Nanodegree’ students

· Reasonably straightforward to follow.

General Approach & Philosophy








·   ds106 encourages the use of new digital tools to help ordinary people tell their own “true stories” in a compelling and emotionally engaging form in less than 8 minutes.

· join when you want, leave when you want.

· Community of Learners approach.

· free


·  offer free courses – similar to ‘Nanodegree’ courses but don’t have the individual support mechanisms.

· offer ‘Nanodegree’ courses which are supported by tutors/instructors.

· encourages those who try out the free courses to move on to Nanodegree courses.

· outcome based and career orientated

· every course has a clear end goal

· graduates earn an industry-recognised credential and benefit from extensive career support


I found ds106 intriguing but strange at same time.  Initially I couldn’t quite grasp the concept of working though other people’s projects and re-creating them, however on further investigation found the actual ds106 course page and obtained a better understanding of the course and the expected outcomes.  It was interesting to see that you could dip in and out of sections of the course and choose which you wanted to do and in what order, that I expect would allow you to work on aspects that you wanted to develop.  I could see the potential of ds106 as a collaborative learning area for developing aspects of learning (and curriculum).  I can see it working similar to Pinterest in creating a board for sharing learning resources created through undertaking ds106. 

I can similar approaches to learning through H817 – setting up blogs, investigating and joining communities such as twitter and Google+ to name a few.

Courseware is open and you can take, modify and use materials for your own purposes. 

No credits or badges are awarded.


I investigated free and Nanodegree projects and enrolled in a couple of free course.  I have basic coding so took this as a starting point for my investigation. Aspects of the primary ICT curriculum include games design opportunities therefore I chose ‘Make your own 2048’ project which indicated could be completed within 6 hours (1 day course).  To allow me to work through this course I first watched the instructor video clips part of which included downloading programmes.  I needed to download Git/Github and Sublime.  This was time consuming.  The videos ran one after the other with no reference to stopping video and undertaking exercises located through a separate tab.  I found the videos interesting but impersonal as the instructors spoke to each other about what they were doing – usually the camera was behind the instructors allowing you to see what they were working on however it was difficult to see what they were actually doing before the time was up and they were on to the next theme.  Tutorial was run using Mac, which I don’t use. 

Not to be put off by my first experience I went on to investigate ‘Intro to Programming’ which again offered no coaching support because it was a free course.  If I was to follow this course by ‘Nanodegree’ it would take 8 months to complete.  The format was similar to that of the other course, videos and exercises to complete.  I was able to find the exercises easier on this course and found the instructions/exercises easier.  This course also had a quiz at the end of each video tutorial. 

There are some really interesting innovative courses available through Udacity, however I feel that to benefit from this degree of learning, or to commit to this amount of learning, I would need to be working in or aspiring to move into this technological field.

I am also concerned about the accreditation only through completion of the Nanadegree route.  I wonder too, if this accreditation would be recognised by employers in this country.  It’s time to open up these elearning opportunities to a wider community across organisations other than those based purely on programming, software and web development. This could encourage and/or promote these digital skills and show how accessible they are to any stage of learner. Prior to undertaking this course I had only heard about Udacity through a discussion about MOOC providers with my line manager while working within the CPD unit.  I doubt very many of my colleagues would have knowledge of Udacity.


Both ds106 and Udacity offer different opportunities to learn independently and with peer support.  ds106 is more virtual art compared to the more technical aspects of developing programming within Udacity.  This comparison has made me aware of two more open learning networks and the challenges and benefits that could arise from participation, and this  will enable me to add to my bank of resources.




Images credited to:

ds106 image from

Udacity Logo svg obtained from








One thought on “Block 2 Activity 14: Comparing MOOCs

  1. So interesting to compare two MOOC approaches that are so different…..and I used to think one size fitted all as I had only ever discovered FutureLearn! Like you, I found DS106 intriguing whilst being startling all at the same time. I’m going to have a further look, time permitting as I feel it will be a personal stretch to get to grips with DS106, even if I only dip my toe in the water!


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