Toward a generalizable understanding of Twitter and social media use across MOOCs: who participates on MOOC hashtags and in what ways?
- 607 Downloads
Researchers have proposed that social media provide complementary learning environments for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that might engender participation, engagement, and peer-support. Although suggestive, nearly all of the research in this area consists of case studies, making it challenging to determine whether or to what extent findings can be generalized to MOOCs beyond those studied. This mixed methods research used data mining techniques to retrieve a large-scale Twitter data set from 116 MOOCs with course-dedicated hashtags. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, it then examined users’ participation patterns, the types of users posting to those hashtags, the types of tweets that were posted, and the variation in types of posted tweets across users. While popular narratives suggest that social media provide a space for increased participation, this study provides little evidence to support these claims in the context of Twitter as an adjunct to MOOCs. Results show that learners make up only about 45% of users and contribute only about 35% of tweets. The majority of users contribute minimally, and an active minority of users contributes the preponderance of messages. These findings do not reveal substantive evidence of learners contributing to multiple hashtags, which may suggest that learners did not find Twitter to be a useful space that provided added value or responded to their needs. Ultimately, these results demonstrate the need for greater intentionality in integrating social media into MOOCs.
KeywordsMOOCs Social media Twitter Participation patterns Hashtags
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Brady, K. P., Holcomb, L. B., & Smith, B. V. (2010). The use of alternative social networking sites in higher educational settings: A case study of the e-learning benefits of Ning in education. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 9(2), 151–170.Google Scholar
- Churcher, K. M. A., Downs, E., & Tewksbury, D. (2014). “Friending” Vygotsky: A social constructivist pedagogy of knowledge building through classroom social media use. Journal of Effective Teaching, 14(1), 33–50.Google Scholar
- Conole, G. (2013). MOOCs as disruptive technologies: Strategies for enhancing the learner experience and quality of MOOCs. Revista de Educación a Distancia, 39. Retrieved on 13 Sept 2016. http://revistas.um.es/red/article/view/234221/0.
- García-Peñalvo, F. J., Cruz-Benito, J., Borrás-Gené, O., & Blanco, Á. F. (2015). Evolution of the conversation and knowledge acquisition in social networks related to a MOOC course. In Proceedings of HCI international 2015 conference, pp. 470–481.Google Scholar
- Koutropoulos, A., Abajian, S. C., DeWaard, I., Hogue, R. J., Keskin, N. O., & Rodriguez, C. O. (2014). What tweets tell us about MOOC participation. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, 9(1). http://online-journals.org/index.php/i-jet/article/view/3316.
- McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. J. W. (2007). Social software and participatory learning: Pedagogical choices with technology affordances in the Web 2.0 era. In Proceedings of the ascilite conference, 2007, Singapore. http://www.ascilite.org/conferences/singapore07/procs/mcloughlin.pdf.
- Skrypnyk, O., Joksimović, S., Kovanović, V., Gašević, D., & Dawson, S. (2016). Roles of course facilitators, learners, and technology in the flow of information of a cMOOC. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 16(3). doi: 10.19173/irrodl.v16i3.2170.
- Twitter API. (2016). API overview. Twitter Developers. https://dev.twitter.com/overview/api.
- van Treeck, T., & Ebner, M. (2013). How useful is Twitter for learning in massive communities? An analysis of two MOOCs. In K. Weller, A. Bruns, J. Burgess, M. Mahrt, & C. Puschmann (Eds.), Twitter & Society (pp. 411–424). New York, NY: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
- Zheng, S., Han, K., Rosson, M. B., & Carroll, J. M. (2016). The role of social media in MOOCs: How to use social media to enhance student retention. In Proceedings of the third ACM conference on learning @ scale, pp. 419–428.Google Scholar