Exploring the communication preferences of MOOC learners and the value of preference-based groups: Is grouping enough?
- 1.4k Downloads
Approximately 10 % of learners complete Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs); the absence of peer and professor support contributes to retention issues. MOOC leaders often form groups to supplement in-course forums and Q&A sessions, and students participating in groups find them valuable. Instructors want to assist in the formation of groups, creating multi-national collaborations, an asset possible in MOOCs that is generally sacrificed when students form their own groups. Little is known about how people from various cultures prefer to communicate with each other, or about the value of groups formed by MOOC leaders. To understand MOOC leaners’ grouping preferences, we administered a pre-course online survey to volunteers registered in the “Creativity, Innovation, and Change” MOOC offered by Penn State University via Coursera and assigned volunteers to groups based on their preferences. We also examined whether assigning learners to groups based on their preferences enhanced their performance or completion of the course. This paper reports MOOC learners’ preferences for different modes of online communication with group members (asynchronous text posts, synchronous text chats, or synchronous video and audio). Statistically significant relationships were found between learners’ preferred communication modes and their level of English proficiency, gender, level of education, and age. Although placing learners in groups based on their preferences and introducing them to each other did not improve course performance or completion, our findings on preferred communication modes, combined with more formal instruction of how to function as group members may prove to enhance learning and engagement in MOOCs.
KeywordsCommunication preferences Peer support MOOC Group learning Social learning
- Alario-Hoyos, C., Pérez-Sanagustín, M., Delgado-Kloos, C., Muñoz-Organero, M., & Rodríguez-de-las-Heras, A. (2013). Analysing the impact of built-in and external social tools in a MOOC on educational technologies. In D. Hernandez-Leo, T. Ley, R. Klamma, & A. Harrer (Eds.), Proceedings of the 8th European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning (pp. 5–18). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
- Berge, Z. L., & Huang, Y. P. (2004). A model for sustainable student retention: A holistic perspective on the student dropout problem with special attention to e-Learning. Deosnews, 13(5), Retrieved from http://learningdesign.psu.edu/deos/deosnews13_5.pdf.
- Duggan, M. (2013) [FactTank post]. It’s a woman’s (social media) world. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/09/12/its-a-womans-social-media-world/.
- Fallows, D. (2005). How women and men use the internet. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2005/12/28/how-women-and-men-use-the-internet/.
- Friedman, L. W. & Friedman, H. H. (2013). Using social media technologies to enhance online learning. Journal of Educators Online, 10(1), 1–21. Retrieved from http://www.thejeo.com/Archives/Volume10Number1/Friedman.pdf.
- Gütl, C., Rizzardini, R. H., Chang, V., & Morales, M. (2014). Attrition in MOOC: Lessons learned from drop-out students. In L. Uden, J. Sinclair, Y.-H. Tao, & D. Liberano (Eds.), Proceedings of the Third International Workshop on Learning Technology for Education in Cloud (pp. 37–48). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.Google Scholar
- Hashizume, A., Kurosu, M., & Kaneko, T. (2008). The choice of communication media and the use of mobile phone among senior users and young users. In S. Lee, H. Choo, S. Ha, & In C. Shin (Eds.), Proceedings of the 8th Asia-Pacific Conference on Computer Human Interaction (pp. 427–436). Berlin-Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
- Hristova, A., & Bayeck, R. (2015). Exploring the relation between women’s socio-economic status and their preferences to work in MOOC groups. Paper presented at the Annual Comparative and International Education Society Conference, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
- Jablokow, K., Matson, J., & Velegol, D. (2014). A multidisciplinary MOOC on creativity, innovation, and change: Encouraging experimentation and experiential learning on a grand scale. Paper presented at the 121 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, IN. Retrieved from http://www.asee.org.
- Lane, A. (2013). The potential of MOOCs to widen access to, and success in, higher education study. In Proceedings of The Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference (pp. 189–203). Retrieved from http://oro.open.ac.uk.
- Lin, C. I., Tang, W., & Kuo, F.-Y. (2012). “Mommy wants to learn the computer”: How middle-aged and elderly women in Taiwan learn ICT through social support. Adult Education Quarterly, 62(1), 73–90. doi: 10.1177/0741713610392760 and 0741713610392760v1.
- McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. J. (2007). Social software and participatory learning: Pedagogical choices with technology affordances in the Web 2.0 era. In Proceedings of the 2007 Ascilite ICT Conference: Providing Choices for Learners and Learning (pp. 664–675). Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au.
- McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M.J.W. (2008). Mapping the digital terrain: New media and social software as catalysts for pedagogical change. In Proceedings of the 2008 Ascilite Conference: Hello! Where are you in the Landscape of Educational Technology (pp. 641–652). Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au.
- McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M.J.W. (2010). Personalised and self regulated learning in the Web 2.0 era: International exemplars of innovative pedagogy using social software. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(1), 28–43. Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au.
- Rourke, L., Anderson, T., Garrison, D.R., & Archer, W. (1999). Assessing social presence in asynchronous text-based computer conferencing. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education (Journal of Distance Education), 14(2), 50–71. Retrieved from http://www.ijede.ca.
- Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Instructional Technology and Distance Education, 2(1), 3–10. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org.
- Stewart, B. (2010). Social media literacies and perceptions of value in open online courses. Retrieved from http://portfolio.cribchronicles.com.
- Tomai, M., Mebane, M. E., Rosa, V., & Benedetti, M. (2014). Can computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL) promote counter-stereotypical gender communication styles in male and female university students? Procedia—Social and Behavioral Sciences, 116, 4384–4392. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.952. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042814009690.
- Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Wellman, B., Salaff, J., Dimitrova, D., Garton, L., Gulia, M., & Haythornthwaite, C. (1996). Computer networks as social networks: Collaborative work, telework, and virtual community. Annual Review of Sociology, 22, 213–238. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2083430.
- Yang, D., Sinha, T., Adamson, D., & Rosé, C. P. (2013). Turn on, tune in, drop out: Anticipating student dropouts in massive open online courses. Paper presented at the 2013 NIPS Data-Driven Education Workshop, Stateline, NV. Retrieved from http://lytics.stanford.edu.