The Impact of Open Source


I want to write some apps for my Droid. There is no better way to get up to speed quickly than to take a MOOC class on just that topic. The course I started (and have to go back and finish after a quick review of Java) is Programming Mobile Applications for Android Handheld Systems: Part 1 offered by the University of Maryland through Coursera. This is a four week course of which I completed two weeks when I realized just how rusty my Java is.

The course is very well structured. All aspects of good instructional design for online learning are addressed on the course web page: organization of instruction, syllabus, learning exercises, explanation of instructional materials and methods, and support and contact information (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015). The objectives are particularly clear; students know exactly what they should be able to do by the end of each week. And, there is even an FAQ with a variety of concerns answered.

The learning process is clearly laid out and only requires self-determination to complete. I say that because that because there were 350,000 students enrolled in my course and the instructor sent a message in week three to try and encourage people to complete the assignments. It would seem that apathy is an issue with free courses; students must be self-motivated to learn. Martin (2012) brings up a good point; MOOCs should be able to support both students who are struggling and those who easily master the content. Is that possible? Was there so much apathy in my class because people were struggling, or, like me, did they just need to brush up and then return?

The activities certainly maximized the learning and they were actually fun. Learning content is chunked into reasonable bites. Plus the course culminated with the creation of a complete app from scratch. The ability to create the app fosters students’ confidence in their ability and is important for student satisfaction in the online course (Shen, Cho, Tsai, & Marra, 2013). I can’t wait to get back to my course.


Programming Mobile Applications for Android Handheld Systems: Part 1. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Martin, F. G. (2012). Will massive open online courses change how we teach?. Communications of the ACM, 55(8), 26-28.

Shen, D., Cho, M. H., Tsai, C. L., & Marra, R. (2013). Unpacking online learning experiences: Online learning self-efficacy and learning satisfaction. The Internet and Higher Education, 19, 10-17.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (6th ed.) Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.


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