Participation and engagement patterns, and Social Network Analysis in MOOCs

Fabian posted on FB:

Can you imagine a population of around 3 million students in one centralized LMS? It would be like MOOCs inside the firewall… pros and con

My response:

That could be interesting to explore. MOOCs inside a firewall is like those typical institution LMS. You could “force” lots of discussion and debates by incorporating assessment which are based on the posting of comments, number of research papers quoted, the “likes” and voting one gets from others, and the quantity and quality of responses by each students (traced through LA). If these form part or whole of the assessments, then there could be tens and hundred thousands of posts and responses. Whether the professors and TAs would be able to cope with such huge number of posts and comments are another matter. Such challenge may be overcome with the 1-9-90 rule based on the votes, so the post and comments having highest votes would be elected to be given attention, or debated upon. This has been reported in many of the xMOOCs posts and you could Google to explore them.
Is this also applicable to cMOOCs? May be. You would need lots of TAs and knowledgeable others who have expertise in studying the LA, and report on the patterns of interaction. Relating to the course nature of MOOCS, you might find that some of the MOOCs are of an advanced nature, more likely suitable for sophomore undergraduates or graduate students pursuing a Master or PhD. It is no wonder that these MOOCs have a low completion rate, as they require a strong background knowledge in a number of fields, including Statistics and Mathematical tools.
Refer to this post It is likely that these few million students in MOOC or centralized LMS would likely behave in a hub and spokes with 10 or less in the population and 80 or 90% + falling outside the core of the MOOCs. These are typically similar to most MOOCs we have studied in the past. You could even analyse those patterns of study or learning using highly sophisticated mathematical modelling – as theoretical construct to explain those behavioral patterns – on interactions, connections and the emergence, though this requires also careful and sophisticated SNA and interpretation. There may be some PhD or Postdoc studies working on this, as many PhD candidates and TAs are using XMOOC to carry out LA( Learning Analytics) and relevant theorization to support their PhDs. I learnt this through the study of those xMOOCs blog comments, but I have not seen one such research paper released.
See this post It is typical to have 10% or less MOOC participants active in the course. It is relatively difficult to precisely determine the exact percentage of very active, active, not so active, and no participation, but likely 1-9-90 is what happened in most MOOCs, unless you close the MOOCs and force everyone to be onboard, and count their interaction and assessment as part or full for completion requirements. It could be risky to coerce participation, though not impossible to develop a course like that. In fact there has been reports of course with blogs participation where everyone’s postings and commenting is part of the assessment for the course unit.
Treating MOOCs as experiments surely is interesting, as these lessen the accountability and responsibilities of “failures” by students (especially when they are not paying any fees to the institutions or providers) and there aren’t substantial duty of care required, mainly because drop-out is ethically acceptable, and there is no loss in finance to the providers or institutions. Would this be a critical difference between MOOCs and the formal open online courses offered in formal institutions?
Refer to this slideshare by Stephen Downes
Some other studies here:
Social Network Analysis
Photo: Credit (Anonymous) (Google)

One thought on “Participation and engagement patterns, and Social Network Analysis in MOOCs

  1. Pingback: Participation and engagement patterns, and Social Network Analysis in MOOCs: 10% or less active? 1-9-90 ? | barcamps, educamps. opencourses, moocs |

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