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4.4 The learner experience in MOOCs

There is a strong emphasis on learner independence and peer support in MOOCs. Partly this is a result of their scale and that they are free – the providers of the course cannot afford to employ sufficient staff to provide support. This approach has also derived from the values of the early adopters, who wanted to explore pedagogies based around social connections. This has led to some criticism that MOOCs are only suitable for more experienced learners and those who are technologically competent. Arguably, the MOOCs arising from commercial ventures have adopted a more traditional pedagogic approach.

The completion rate for MOOCs is very low, as this article in The Atlantic [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] points out. However, if courses are free and people are trying them out, then a high drop-out rate might be expected, but it is worth considering whether this high attrition rate raises problems for MOOCs as a general approach.

Activity 14: Comparing MOOCs

Timing: 4 hours
  • Compare either DS106 or the Change MOOC with offerings from Udacity or Coursera.

    (You may not be able to access a course on these sites without signing up – there is no need to do this but you do need to ascertain what you can from the information around the course and the approach of the providers.)

  • Write a blog post comparing the courses with regards to:
    • technology
    • pedagogy
    • general approach and philosophy.
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