UX thoughts about MOOCS

Studying user experience and engagement in Coursera


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What makes MOOC special? Massive communities and…

Community

Last week, I was interviewed for an article about the ways in which student communities are encouraged or built in MOOCs and I had the opportunity to contribute with some reflections from a User Experience perspective. I would like to share some of these ideas about the emergence of strong communities around MOOCs and continue the debate in this post.

I believe that the feeling of being part of these massive learning communities plays an important role in the overall User Experience of MOOCs and it can have an impact in students motivation, persistence and learning.

It is undeniable there is something special about MOOCs, something that goes beyond previous learning experiences, but, could it be related with these massive online communities?

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Getting to know 100.000 classmates

Classmates

Numerous researchers have pointed out that, in the context of Education, social interactions can have a meaningful impact in student motivation, persistency and learning outcomes.

In offline classrooms, just the fact of being in the same physical space facilitates personal interactions. If you don’t understand something you can just ask the person sitting next to you,  rise your hand and ask your question during the lecture or approach the instructor at the end of the session. You also have more opportunities to comment the materials and assignments with your classmates, learn from each other and find encouragement to keep up with the workload.

In online courses, in contrast, since you cannot see your classmates or talk to them in person, it is easier to feel disconnected, not supported or even alone. E-learning platforms have tried to solve this problem by creating online communication spaces and tools to support and encourage students interactions: discussion forums, chats, profiles, blogs,…

But, how can you get to know your classmates when there are more than 100.000 students enrolled in the same course?

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