UX thoughts about MOOCS

Studying user experience and engagement in Coursera

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Getting to know 100.000 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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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?

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