Here is my response to Peter Sloep’s Scoopit on Completion rates of MOOCs.
My experience with previous CCKs was that people like to interact when they feel comfortable in sharing and interacting, and they would like to learn how to facilitate and moderate discussion, as more in-depth inquiries are made and deeper issues are explored, based on the interests of the topics as perceived by the students, and ideas shared by the students in MOOCs. This also depends on the MOOC subject, and the background of the students.
So, does human interaction in forum relate to the success of MOOCs? Yes, to some extent for cMOOCs, but I doubt if there is a strong correlation of human interaction in forum and success in the case of xMOOCs.
What are the success factors of xMOOCs?
I think there are three major factors which have led to the success with xMOOCs:
1. Big brand, where the elite institutions do sell when launching and implementing MOOCs. There are also super-star professors who could make a difference, in that they are the authorities figures, that would attract more novices to participate. Most enthusiastic students (especially those who are undergraduate students, or those who didn’t have a chance to have formal HE) would like to associate themselves with prominent professors, and this may lead to the building of networks with both professors and others who are knowledgeable in the field. This means that they could have a higher chance of getting reference when they are affiliated with the professors and institutions. The recent promotion of xMOOCs through the testimonials of top performers and “high achievers” of xMOOCs also reveals the importance of marketing through showcasing and branding the vision and mission of institution.
I would like to see more statistics on the 22 mins response time that Jon mentioned, as I have participated in MORE THAN 8 MOOCs and I don’t think the response time is a reliable measure of responses to forum. I doubt if one could get a “reliable response” answered in a “closed” LMS in xMOOCs. It really depends on what was commented there (the quality, the depth of analysis) in the forum.
Sometimes there could be echo chamber praising some points without any significant in-depth inquiries or explanation on why one holds a certain point of view.
Would there be “bias” in judging the comments on any online courses – c or x MOOCs as we could never know what was happening in the forum unless one is involved in the discussion?
In summary, the big branding could make a difference in attracting people to the course, and to the forum, especially when the course is offering certain “certificates and statements” upon completion.
2. Award of certificates and statements as achievement of “competency”.
My observation is that people could be motivated to complete the course – xMOOCs partly because of these awards, whereas up till now there aren’t much awards (or badges granted) for cMOOCs completion (at least not the CCKs, PLENK or Change11, unless one pays for it).
This again depends on the motivation behind the participants of x and c MOOCs.
I suppose that many cMOOCs participants would be more interested in blogging, after a few rounds and may be years of involvement in cMOOCs as compared with forum discussions. Early researches in cMOOCs (CCK08) indicate a stronger preference to blogging, though there were around 30% who preferred both blogs and forums.
xMOOC participants are more interested in getting a certificate (as that is the basis of mastery learning too, as promoted by the xMOOC providers), and so the xMOOC participants would more likely to join discussion (LMS, FB, twitter), rather than creating their own blogs.
I don’t think there are many researchers who would be able to get these data from MOOCs participants, as they are still closed under the xMOOCs. Besides, I suppose most xMOOC providers are more interested in the promotion and use of centralised LMS, not the blogs created or posted by the students.
To what extent (i.e. what percentage of xMOOCs students would blog about their learning and experience)? Are these the interests of xMOOC providers? Is that also on the research agenda of xMOOCs?
3. Course content and assessment provision that are available from the xMOOCs website. Indeed, many MOOCs providers have been posting their resources on the web for years. However, the assessment option has only been introduced recently. It seems that the AI course delivered by Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig was one of the first xMOOCs offered to the public free of charge. Such assessment provision surely attracts undergraduate and graduates to try and use them, as they might be able to improve their own study by taking those quizzes, assessment or examinations. Besides, they could get keep practising the tests or quizzes until they become competent, like those assessments available from Udacity.
Would cMOOC providers consider the above 3 “factors” in introducing MOOCs? What if cMOOCs are based on branding, award of certificate or testimonials and provision of assessment for free? Would that lead to more students flocking to cMOOCs?
I think there is a chance of having huge success if these 3 factors – branding, award and assessment provision are all adopted by more higher education institutions. This would especially be the case when degrees are awarded for free by the elite institutions to some of the MOOC graduates.
However, there would surely be certain conditions that need to apply, when degrees are awarded, as there is no such thing as free lunch in education. There could be other sources of funding, or collection of revenue, such as getting the employer to pay for those “free awards” to their employees by the institutions. Would this be challenging the HE institutions to the limit then?
Would any researchers from xMOOCs come up with the above conclusions? I think this could be interesting to validate. It could be possible to compare the success rate based on “branding, award of certificate and assessment” granted by each of the “elite institutions”.
There could be many other factors which have led to the success of xMOOCs. What are they? Would you like to share them with me?