UX thoughts about MOOCS

Studying user experience and engagement in Coursera

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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


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Writing text messages for your MOOC? Do not expect students to read them


The way you write, structure and display the texts that will be part of your MOOC (mailings, announcements, activities…) will determine how easily or efficiently your students can process your instructions and gain knowledge.

It is not enough to prepare well-written, grammatically correct and error-free texts. If they are not optimized for the web, your message will not probably reach all your students, and it will negatively influence the overall usability of the course.

Let’s look at two weekly announcements or messages from two different Coursera MOOCs ( Healthcare Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Gamification):

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