UX thoughts about MOOCS

Studying user experience and engagement in Coursera

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What makes MOOC special? Massive communities and…


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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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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