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Keeping Them Clicking: Promoting Student Engagement in MOOC Design

Author Jemimah Bailey, Dara Cassidy and Nicholas Breakwell
Abstract The MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is the latest buzzword in distance education, bringing together, for the first time, high quality 'Ivy League' providers, online education and a low-cost model. MOOCs align with the approaches to teaching and learning advocated by the Kronberg Declaration (UNESCO, 2007), whereby learners 'play an ever more active role in knowledge acquisition and sharing' with 'the role of teachers and instructors decreasing'. While the basic design of individual MOOCs may not have moved too far beyond traditional pedagogical approaches, being largely lecture-based in format, the concept itself is learner-centred, liberating students to access and engage with education. However, to date, it would appear that MOOCs are falling short of these lofty ambitions for a radical shift in the way that education is delivered. The evidence strongly suggests that any reasonable measure of learner engagement in MOOCs is underwhelming when compared to the massive number of enrolments that many have secured. With these issues in mind, the authors this summer (2013) ran an eight-week MOOC, which generated data for a randomised control trial that considers the impact of three factors on student engagement: 1) Workload 2) Task design 3) Level of and nature of facilitation As part of the design, five different user groups were randomly created to investigate the contribution of each of the three factors above to the level of student engagement and to determine which, if any, had the greatest significance. Engagement was measured by tracking user activity and the collection of student feedback. This paper reports on the initial results of this experiment in MOOC delivery.
Keywords MOOC, student engagement, attrition rate, motivation, instructional design, facilitation, community
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2013
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