1. An Overview of the MOOC
Research Initiative: The project,
literature, and landscape
George Siemens, PhD
October 22, 2013
4. and this doesn’t include
5. Or the many flavours of MOOCs
6. And quasi-MOOCs
7. UNESCO, 2013
8. I’ll posit:
MOOCs: the billion $$ solution to a problem we
haven’t identified yet:
Over the past two years, MOOCs have drawn
over $500m in hard investment & expenses
from major/minor MOOC providers and
(and at least as much in soft investment in the
form of time, research, publication, coursetaking, etc).
A supply-side answer to decades of change
in demand-side learning needs.
10. Increasing diversity
of student profiles
The U.S. is now in a position when less than
half of students could be considered fulltime
students. In other words, students who can
attend campus five days a week nine-to-five,
are now a minority.
11. “Tertiary institutions not only have to meet
the growing demand for university education
by expanding the number of places they
offer, they also have to adapt programmes
and teaching methods to match the
changing needs of a more diverse
generation of students.”
12. Favours women over men
More learners as % (up to 60%)
Average entrance age increasing
Top three countries for entering students:
China, India, USA
Traditional science courses waning in
Greater international student
13. MOOCs: Shadow learning
14. Today in education, we are witnessing
an unbundling of previous network
And a rebundling of new network lock-in
15. MOOCs are a keystone concept in
reformulating education models
and creating new ecosystems
MOOC Research Initiative
17. Intent of MRI:
Evaluate MOOCs and their impact on
teaching, learning, policy, and education
Contribute to research literature (largely
Connect researchers and create a forum for
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Initial funding: $400k
Funding doubled: $830k
19. Steering Committee
Yvonne Belanger, Gates Foundation
Stacey Clawson, Gates Foundation
Marti Cleveland-Innes, Athabasca University
Jillianne Code, University of Victoria
Shane Dawson, University of South Australia
Keith Devlin, Stanford University
Tom (Chuong) Do, Coursera
Phil Hill, Co-founder of MindWires Consulting & co-publisher of e-Literate blog
Ellen Junn, San Jose State University
Zack Pardos, MIT
Barbara Means, SRI International
Steven Mintz, University of Texas
Rebecca Petersen, edX
Cathy Sandeen, American Council on Education
George Siemens, Athabasca University
June 5: Call announced
July 7: Initial short submission due
July 20: Notification of short-listed applications
August 20: Final submissions due
August 30: Final notification of successful grants
21. Tight timeline
“How can you design the experiment, designate
the control group, run the experiment
(randomizing assignment of students to regular
classes and MOOCs) and compare and
analyze the results of the different modes of
teaching for a presentation at a December
conference. Obviously, this isn't intended for
people who want to run an experiment, using
scientific modes of discovery, or the deadline
for presentation of results would be later.”
22. Review Process
Each paper: 3 peer reviewers
Final selection based on “over all fit” (i.e.
23. Lessons learned
- Extend review/selection time to resolve
- Allow time for discussion between
- Add more reviewers
PM: Stella George
Internal Athabasca U processes:
contracts, ethics review, much debate
Research Centre, Legal, Faculty involved
The results on the following slides are
preliminary. Final results will be presented at
the MRI conference in December.
26. Phase 1 Stats
266 total submissions
37 countries represented
27. Phase 2 Stats
78 total submissions
15 countries represented
Open University UK
U of Oxford
Columbia U (Teachers C.)
Cal State / Mt San Jacinto
Glasgow Caledonian University
Université de Montréal/HEC
Montreal/Université du Québec à
U Michigan/U Saskatechwan
31. Intent of this analysis:
What is the state of MOOC research?
1. Home disciplines of researchers
2. Research methods used
3. Influential authors/publications
32. More concretely
What is the distribution of the fields involved in MOOC
o E.g., are the majority of them educational
researchers, CS & Technology professors, Social
Scientists or from Industry?
What body of knowledge serves as a base for MOOC
Who are the major researchers that influence the
What methodologies are being used?
What are the main topics and concepts discussed in
the MOOC research?
What fields are most central thus bringing other fields
together in the MOOC research?
From all submissions we manually extracted the list of authors.
o For every author we collected information about his baseline
field, institution and research interests.
From all submissions we manually extracted the list of all
o For every citation extracted the list of authors, year and the
number of times it has been cited.
From all submissions we manually extracted the information
about the used methodology.
o We categorized the paper as quantitative, qualitative or
mixed-methods based and also extracted the list of
From all submissions we automatically extracted the list of
concepts and then created a cooccurrence graph with all terms
in all submissions.
34. Methodologies per field
35. Lori Breslow, David E. Pritchard, Jennifer DeBoer, Glenda S. Stump, Andrew D. Ho and Daniel T.
Seaton (2013), “Studying Learning in the Worldwide Classroom: Research into edX’s First
MOOC,” Research & Practice in Assessment Journal, Summer;
Kizilcec, R. F., Piech, C., & Schneider, E. (2013). Deconstructing Disengagement: Analyzing Learner
Subpopulations in Massive Open Online Courses. Third International Conference on Learning
Analytics and Knowledge, LAK ’13 Leuven, Belgium.
Yuan, L. & Powell, S. ( 2013). MOOCs and open education: Implications for higher education.
Retrieved from http://publications.cetis.ac.uk/2013/667.
Mackness, J., Mak, S. and Williams, Roy (2010) The ideals and reality of participating in a MOOC. In:
Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Networked Learning 2010. University of
Lancaster, Lancaster, pp. 266-275. ISBN 9781862202252
Daniel, J., (2012) Making sense of MOOCs: Musings in a maze of myth, paradox and possibility,
Korean National Open University, Séoul.
Pappano, L. (2012, November 2). The year of the MOOC. New York Times. Available:
McAuley, A., B. Stewart, G. Siemens and D. Cormier, 2010. The MOOC Model for Digital Practice.
Belanger, Y., & Thornton, J. (2013). Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach. dukespace. Retrieved from
Kop, R., Fournier, H., & Mak, J. S. F. (2011). A pedagogy of abundance or a pedagogy to support
human beings? participant support on massive open online courses. International Review of
Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(7 SPECIAL ISSUE), 74-93.
Siemens, G. (2012). MOOCs are really a platform. eLearnspace.
http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/2012/07/25/moocs-are-really-a-platform/ accessed 2012-09-21
Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.International Journal of
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December 5-6, 2013
University of Texas Arlington