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Messy realities: Investigating learners' experiences in MOOCs


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Amy Collier and George Veletsianos discuss the need for rich methodological and theoretical explorations of learning in MOOCs. Presented at ELI 2014, New Orleans: What do we know about learners' experiences in MOOCs? While surveys and big data yield insights into general behavioral patterns, these detached methods can distance us rather than help us understand the human condition. As a result, the phenomenon of "learning in a MOOC" is understudied and undiscovered. In this session, presenters will share their findings from two small-scale qualitative investigations of MOOC learners' experiences. Attendees will discuss findings from the investigations and generate research questions and methods that advance understanding of MOOC learners' experiences.

Published in: Education, Technology
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Messy realities: Investigating learners' experiences in MOOCs

  1. 1. Messy realities Investigating learners’ experiences In MOOCs @veletsianos @amcollier “Explosion  of  Paint”  image  from  MarkChadwickArt  CC  BY  NC-­‐ND  2.0  
  2. 2. The new “data science” of learning -  Majority of learning research in moocs is survey-based, focused on learner behavior -  “big data” is generating new insights, but researchers may be Excluding important paradigms & methods
  3. 3. Why qualitative research for moocs? -  Different methodologies yield richer Understandings Micro (Ota, 2013) “(I was) left with a partial sense of accomplishment and feelings of hollowness and incompleteness” Macro (Kizilcec, piech, & Schneider, 2013) students are auditing, completing, disengaging, and sampling
  4. 4. Study 1: post-course surveys in 2 moocs @amcollier Study 2: learners’ narratives in moocs @veletsianos “Explosion  of  Paint”  image  from  MarkChadwickArt  CC  BY  NC-­‐ND  2.0  
  5. 5. Extremely  Good   158   Very  Good   234   Mostly  Good   Neutral   CS course 69   12   Mostly  Bad   1   Very  Bad   3   Extremely  Bad   0   Extremely  Good   959   Very  Good   1731   Mostly  Good   530   Neutral   Health Science course 92   Mostly  Bad   23   Very  Bad   11   Extremely  Bad   6  
  6. 6. Health Science course Applies  to  me   Does  not  apply  to  me   Total   I  expect  to  perform  beSer  at  my  work  as  a   result  of  this  course   3,156   172   3,328   I  plan  on  menUoning  my  parUcipaUon  in   the  course  to  my  employers     2,470   851   3,321   I  plan  on  menUoning  my  parUcipaUon  in   the  course  to  current  or  future   educaUonal  insUtuUons     2,382   939   3,321   My  problem-­‐solving  skills  have  improved   as  a  result  of  this  course   2,403   916   3,319   Taking  this  course  made  me  feel  more   confident  about  learning  new  things   2,809   519   3,328   This  course  was  valuable  to  my  academic   career   2,881   442   3,323  
  7. 7. resources used Wikipedia (CS) Textbooks & articles (HS & CS) Other websites OTHER OER & MOOCs Colleagues (HS)
  8. 8. Veletsianos,  G.  (2013).  Learner  Experiences  with  MOOCs  and  Open  Online  Learning.  Hybrid  Pedagogy.  Retrieved  on  Sept  29,  2013  from   hSp://  
  9. 9. Results from both studies Learners Identified a need for improved Instructional design - improvements to materials & assessments - Unclear expectations - Long & Monotonous lecture videos
  10. 10. Results from both studies Learners valued flexible learning design and denounced rigidity - However, some learners Appreciated some formal structures
  11. 11. Results from both studies Re: Interactions in the course, Learners: - Wanted more instructor presence, appreciated instructor responsiveness - Valued instructor expertise - Were frustrated by peer-peer interactions
  12. 12. Results from both studies Mixed overall responses from learners - Expressed enthusiasm & gratitude - Questioned instructor, institutional, & MoOc Provider commitment
  13. 13. Current study: Learners’ lived experiences in MOocs @amcollier @veletsianos “Explosion  of  Paint”  image  from  MarkChadwickArt  CC  BY  NC-­‐ND  2.0  
  14. 14. Methods 20 in-depth interviews with mooc learners Via skype Interviews transcribed, thematic analysis Coder check-in after 5 interviews
  15. 15. Discussion “Explosion  of  Paint”  image  from  MarkChadwickArt  CC  BY  NC-­‐ND  2.0  
  16. 16. questions What’s possible if educational & social researchers collaborate with computer scientists? What should we be asking about the learner experience? What designs/methodologies should we be implementing?