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Small Group Discussion for a MOOC Platform

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Design decisions for implementing small group learning on the FutureLearn platform

Published in: Education
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Small Group Discussion for a MOOC Platform

  1. 1. Designing small group discussion for a MOOC platform Mike Sharples, Laura Kirsop, Alla Kholmatova Presentation at Learning with MOOCS III, Philadelphia
  2. 2. SOCIAL LEARNING ON FUTURELEARN Volunteer learners Self-directed Recommend, not require Social learning, but should be possible to complete the course without being social
  3. 3. Benefits of group learning WHY SMALL GROUPS? Groups work when learners: ● set group goals ● know when and how to contribute ● share knowledge, experience and perspectives ● learn from more knowledgeable peers ● share rewards ● reflect on progress Groups don’t work when: ● people are forced to join ● one person dominates ● people don’t contribute Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (2009). An educational psychology success story: Social interdependence theory and cooperative learning. Educational researcher, 38(5), 365-379.
  4. 4. Benefits of group learning WHY SMALL GROUPS? Effective groups for FutureLearn: ✓ Low barrier to entry ✓ Enable diversity ✓ Promote active conversations ✓ Include well structured activities
  5. 5. DESIGN DECISIONS Content Activity Course Synchronous Real-time discussion of content Live chat about a ‘big question’ during the course Course chat area Asynchronous Small group comments and responses to content Team learning Educator-initiated small group discussion
  6. 6. NUMBER OF LEARNERS ACTIVE ON A TYPICAL COURSE EACH 15-MINUTE PERIOD 1 2 3 4 5 6
  7. 7. DESIGN DECISIONS Content Activity Course Synchronous Too few learners available Too few learners available Off-topic conversations Asynchronous Too similar to FutureLearn comments and replies High barrier to entry Educator-initiated small group discussions (study groups)
  8. 8. Study groups DESIGN DECISIONS Joining Voluntary Compulsory Allocation Random Ability Affinity Facilitation None Peer Educator
  9. 9. Asynchronous discussions for the duration the course STUDY GROUPS Discussion in parallel to the main course Learner: ● at the start of the course is prompted to join a group ● clicks the ‘Study Groups’ tab and is automatically put into a group of around 30 learners (based on recency) ● remains in the group throughout the course unless clicks ‘leave this group’ ● can post, reply to and like comments
  10. 10. Asynchronous discussions for the duration the course STUDY GROUPS Discussion in parallel to the main course Educator: ● can broadcast a prompt to all groups ● can see a list of groups and basic activity ● can enter any group to see the conversation and post, reply, like
  11. 11. Group members Add to group discussion Broadcast educator prompt Learner contribution Educator response Option to leave group
  12. 12. Pilot study with 12 courses EVALUATION ● Analysis of data from trials with 12 courses ● Interview - 8 learners ● Micro-survey in 2nd week - 856 learners ● Detailed survey of learners who had completed 10% or more of course - 1862 learners ● Interviews with representatives from 9 course teams
  13. 13. Successes EVALUATION ● Learners and course teams saw opportunity to enhance the learning experience ● Most learners had no preferences on who they were grouped with - random allocation preferable ● Learners liked interacting with a group of peers ● Learners liked when Educators made contributions
  14. 14. Improvements EVALUATION ● Learners were frustrated when discussion decreased ● Learners need direction on how to work in groups ● Course teams need guidance on designing learning for study groups, e.g. ‘jigsaw learning’ ● Course teams want a better view of group activity and where to intervene More structure and guidance

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