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Evaluation of MOOCs: a case study

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In November 2013 and March 2014 the University of Leicester launched two 6-week Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on the FutureLearn virtual learning environment: “England in the time of Richard III” and “Forensic science and criminal justice”. This is the presentation of the report on the experience of delivering and evaluating these courses. Data sources included learning analytics and pre-course and post-course surveys. Over 22,000 people enrolled in the MOOCs. While participation tended to drop as the weeks progressed, learners’ feedback was generally positive. Students described the courses as interesting, enjoyable and informative. Results also highlight an increased openness towards online education, the role of MOOCs as a lifelong learning option, the use of MOOCs as an introduction to the topic and degree programmes, and the potential of MOOCs as part of a student recruitment strategy.

This paper was presented at Global Learn Berlin (April 16-17, 2015).

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Evaluation of MOOCs: a case study

  1. 1. Evaluation of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): A Case Study Brenda Cecilia Padilla Rodríguez Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León Terese Bird University of Leicester Gráinne Conole University of Bath Spa Global Learn, Berlin April 17, 2015
  2. 2. Massive Open Online Courses The technological infrastructure has the potential to support large-scale use (Steward, 2013). Delivery is via the Internet. Any person in the world with Internet access can participate free of charge, without having to meet any strict pre-requisites of knowledge or demographics (Anderson, 2013). MOOCs are coherent academic interventions with a defined set of learning outcomes (Youell, 2011), and (usually) start and end dates. M O O C
  3. 3. MOOCs by the University of Leicester Forensic Science and Criminal Justice 12,511 England in the time of Richard III 10,066 Designed at “entry level” 25 November 2013 31 March 2014
  4. 4. MOOCs by the University of Leicester 6 weeks 2 study hours 18 pages of materials Text, audio, images, videos, animations Discussions, quizzes Weekly emails Twitter: #FLRichardIII #FLForensicsLeic Twitter chat (Forensic Science)
  5. 5. MOOCs by the University of Leicester
  6. 6. Data Sources • Learning analytics • Surveys o 1 pre-course – demographic profile of participants  Richard III : 22.8% (n=2,285)  Forensic Science: 6.5% (n=813) o 2 post-course  Standard FutureLearn instrument (RIII: 8.3%, n=833; FS: 9.3%, n=1159)  Designed by the University of Leicester (RIII: n=391, FS: n=140)
  7. 7. Participants • Female (70%, 76%) • Over 45 years old (77%, 54%) • Mostly from the UK (76%, 77%) • University studies
  8. 8. Participation in the MOOCs Forensic Science and Criminal JusticeEngland in the time of Richard III Reasons to drop out: Not enough time, losing interest or motivation and failing to keep up as the course progressed
  9. 9. Participation in the MOOCs Discussions occurred naturally, always! Over 7,000 comments – 35%, 41% of them unsolicited! 8-9 comments per learner Conversations via Twitter Facebook groups
  10. 10. Learners’ Feedback • Main reasons to enroll in the courses: o to learn new things (85-88%) o to try out FutureLearn or MOOCs in general (34-53%) o to try out learning online (33-46%) • Favourite aspect: learning about the topic • Level of the course: o Richard III: about right (69%), basic (30%) o Forensic Science: about right (77%), basic (19%) • Preferred activities: interacting with content (reading articles, watching videos, following links to other related materials and doing quizzes)
  11. 11. Learners’ Feedback  Structure: clear (97-99%)  Educators: engaging (90-91%)  Amount of time required: about right (85-86%)  Overall experience: satisfying (88-91%)  Expectations: met (49-55%) or exceeded (37-42%)  Optional comments: positive (69-82% of total comments)
  12. 12. Learners’ Feedback • “…not knowing if someone had liked or commented on your posts made it difficult to strike up a dialogue which I would have liked.“ • “…far too many comments to make it sensible and the comments rarely seemed to [match] ones I shared or felt relevant to what I was wanting”
  13. 13. Highlights • Openness towards online education • MOOCs as lifelong learning “I really enjoyed this course. I took this course because I recently retired and had some spare time on my hands. I am not trying to further my career prospects or my academic prospects. My memory is not good at the best of times, and I take these courses to keep the little grey cells working.”
  14. 14. Highlights • MOOCs as an introduction to the topic and degree programmes o “This course was very useful as it showed I could go 'back to school' and learn something that I was interested in”. o “Definitely worth looking at a free (rather large) bite size chunk of what the studies involve so that you can determine whether or not you would like to take this further as a study option.” • MOOCs as part of a student recruitment strategy

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