UX thoughts about MOOCS

Studying user experience and engagement in Coursera

Leave a comment

Can UX Design Improve MOOC Completion Rates?

The following article was published in “MOOC: News and Reviews” October 10th 2013:


Posted by on Oct 10, 2013 in Commentary, Featured

Massive Open Online Courses are currently disrupting the higher education landscape. Still, MOOC completion rates are remarkably low (normally below 10%) compared to traditional online and offline courses as shown in this data visualization developed by Katy Jordan earlier this year.

MOOC Project by Katy Jordan

Even if most research in this area is just starting, researchers, professors and MOOCs providers have already ventured several reasons that could explain the exaggerated dropout rates:

  • Price as an entry-barrier: MOOCs are free, so, some people enroll just out of curiosity to check out new courses.
  • Scope of interest: Some students can be interested only in one specific topic or section. They enrolled to have access to the videolectures or discussion forums but have no intention to finish the course.
  • Extrinsic motivations: Since most students will not earn credits or “valid and trustworthy certificates” from MOOCs, they are probably less concerned about the requirements to pass the course and just focus on their learning interests.

While all of them seem valid hypotheses and should be further studied, research I am carrying out with my colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign is focusing on another factor that has seldom been considered: Continue reading


Leave a comment

The importance of overview and feedback in MOOCs


One of the most important principles in Usability and HCI is that the user interface should provide clear and adequate feedback to the user about what is going on within the system. Understanding where you are and what is happening, make us feel safe, oriented and in control. And it facilitates to make informed decisions and to take action.

Overview of workload and feedback on completion and performance rates are also key elements to support efficient and healthy work.  Being able to easily overview what has to be done and assess how much effort it could require from us, give us the possibility to adjust work pace and task order and increases our subjective experience of control, which results in higher work satisfaction.

Feedback is also an essential part of effective learning.  According to research, academic feedback is more strongly and consistently related to achievement than any other teaching behavior. Real-time feedback also increases motivation that is commonly used in gamified systems. Knowing how you are doing and what you need to do to progress or win is a powerful motivator.

But is Coursera platform providing overview and appropriate feedback to enhance students’ learning experiences?

Continue reading