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Rising or falling tracing mooc trends in social media


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The research into Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is an ever-widening sky. Although we have learned much about what happens inside such courses less is known about the echoes that spread outside the course walls. Questions remain as to what stories are being told, and by whom, about MOOCs through social media. A gap in the literature exists around what people are saying about MOOCs in Twitter for example. This is an important topic to address because any comprehensive evaluation of the impact of MOOCs should incorporate an evidence base inclusive of informal networks such as social media that draws on the testimony of all MOOC stakeholders including the learners, teachers, researchers, institutions and platform providers.

In an attempt to address this gap in the literature the National Institute for Digital Learning in Dublin City University, in collaboration with the Centre for Big Data in Education at Beijing Normal University are conducting a project to deconstruct the MOOC story through a comparative analysis of social media. This project builds upon research such as the recent study of users of the Sina Weibo platform, a popular Chinese microblogging website, which analyzed representations of MOOCs (Zhang, 2015). This latest project aims to investigate how the MOOC story has been told in social media from a large twitter dataset. In conjunction with the Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce at DCU we have extracted a large dataset from Twitter and interrogated it using several Big Data analytical techniques including time series, sentiment and content analysis. This paper will provide an overview of our findings to date and contextualize them with reference to some of the big research issues regarding MOOCs. In this way we aim to contribute a critical analysis to the ongoing debate over grand MOOC narratives including their promise to reconstitute the future of higher education.


Zhang, J., Perris, K., Zheng, Q. & Chen, L (2015) The MOOC Movement in China: Examining the Time Series of Microblogging. In The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning 16,5 (2015).

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Rising or falling tracing mooc trends in social media

  1. 1. Rising or Falling? Tracing MOOC Trends in Social Media Eamon Costello 1, Theo Lynn2, Mark Brown 1, Binesh Nair2, Enda Donlon 1, Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl 1 1. National Institute for Digital Learning, Dublin City University 2. Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce, Dublin City University
  2. 2. Background BigEdData project research collaboration
  3. 3. The Question What is Twitter Saying about MOOCs?
  4. 4. What do we know?
  5. 5. Rising or Falling? courses/
  6. 6. Whatdo we know?
  7. 7. Our Approach by RSNY • GNIP API Sep – Dec 2015 -> find #MOOC • GZIP -> JSON- > MongoDB – > R • 32,309 tweets (17,910 original) • Descriptive analytics, content analytics, network analytics (Chae, 2015; Lynn et. al., 2015) Chae, B. K. 2015. Insights from hashtag# supplychain and Twitter Analytics: Considering Twitter and Twitter data for supply chain practice and research. In International Journal of Production Economics, 165, 247-259. Lynn, T., Kilroy, S., van der Werff, L., Healy, P., Hunt, G., Venkatagiri, S., and Morrison, J. 2015. Towards a general research framework for social media research using big data. In Professional Communication Conference (IPCC), 2015 IEEE International (pp. 1-8). IEEE.
  8. 8. Top 25 Words in the MOOC Dataset Word Frequency Word Frequency Word Frequency mooc 21,199 education 1,126 onlinelearn 501 course 2,733 join 1,113 science 492 learn 2,686 start 1,055 marketing 478 online 2,442 register 954 Data 471 elearn 2,079 onlinecourse 736 Life 447 free 1,911 highered 667 coursera 1,410 digital 562 edxonline 1,332 university 556 edtech 1,259 open 520 business 1,165 students 518
  9. 9. Top Hashtags
  10. 10. Peak Tweets Num Topic 33 Promotion of MOOC on “Cognitive Technology and its growing importance for business” by David Schatsky, course instructor and senior mananger Deloitte LLP. 72 Promotion of Deloitte’s MOOC on 3D printing. 31 Successful Societies (by Princeton University) promoting MOOC on ‘How can Governments Improve Citizen Services and Cabinet Office Coordination.’ 54 Successful Societies promoting MOOC on ‘Making Government work in Hard Places’. 40 Successful Societies promoting MOOC on ‘How Leaders Overcome Governance Challenges’. 53 Successful Societies promoting MOOC on ‘Writing Science of Delivery Case Studies’ 58 NutritionMOOCs promoting MOOC on ‘Nutrition and Health: Micronutrients and Malnutrition’. 182 NutritionMOOCs promoting 2nd part of MOOC on Nutrition and Health from Wageningen University. 30 Promotion of Coursera’s MOOC on ‘Training TESOL Certificate Part 1: Teach English’. 43 Retweet of Quizalizeapp’s tweet ‘How to say Merry Christmas in 77 Languages’.
  11. 11. Sentiment Analysis Avg: 0.095
  12. 12. Sentiment Analysis Avg: 0.095 Exemplar Tweet Sentiment Score @thesiswhisperer I think the #MOOC is providing wonderful supportive pillow of trust & honesty- glad I'm taking part- thank u #survivephd15 6 STUNNING #mathed animations from .@robertghrist in his calculus #MOOC. Beautiful and effective. Kudos. 4 Just discovered a great free #Social Innovation online course, on this cool learning platform - #iVersity #MOOC ~ 4 #ememitalia Teixeira: focusing on dropout as a problem to criticize #MOOC education is a conceptual mistake -4 CloudComputingApplications - definitely the worst @coursera #MOOC I've ever taken. Irrelevant videos & useless tuts #unenrolled -3 Exemplar Tweets with Strong Sentiment
  13. 13. SNA: Key Hubs Screen Name BC Screen Name BC Screen Name BC mooc24 66,620 openSAP 842 CourseBuffet 118.83 NutritionMOOC s 52,116.67 UCTMOOCs 689.33 PythonDaily 106.50 EUmoocs 24,171 openHPI 499 OpenClassrooms 74 tleerwerk 14,182.17 MIT 443.50 EducationDive 64 juandoming 4,141.67 Plusacumen 435 Acumen 50 Mirimi 3,043.67 Hubert_edu 390 iversity 2,715.50 CircularX 330.50 FutureLearn 1,844.17 ColumbiaScience 325.33 nancyrubin 1,614.50 KristerSvensson 192 MOOCFactory 900.17 Drchuck 167.50
  14. 14. Future work • Who is using the term MOOC? • What can we learn from MOOC hashtags?
  15. 15. Questions? Go raibh maith agaibh @eam0