Developments in MOOC Technologies and Participation Since 2012

Developments in MOOC Technologies and Participation Since 2012

Jeremy Riel (University of Illinois at Chicago, USA) and Kimberly A. Lawless (University of Illinois at Chicago, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch686
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Background

Characterizing MOOCs

MOOCs have gained notoriety primarily due to the massive number of participants (DeBoer et al., 2014; Dolan, 2014). While conventional college courses might host hundreds of students, MOOCs have the capability to host hundreds of thousands of students simultaneously with usually just one instructor. However, despite the benefits of reaching a large number of learners, educational researchers have been concerned with the loss of in-person interactions that are known to be beneficial to learning in higher education (Wiebe, Thompson, & Behrend, 2015; Kop, Fournier, & Mak, 2011).

Openness in the case of MOOCs refers to exclusivity or the ability of learners to access the course. In essence, anybody can “attend” the class without having been formally admitted to an educational program, which is one of the primary draws of the MOOC movement (Dillahunt, Wang, & Teasley, 2014; Morgan & Carey, 2009). The “open” policy does not mean all MOOCs are free of cost, however. Some courses allow anyone to enroll, but charge a fee to receive certain services. For example, MOOC providers often offer premium certificates of completion and dedicated coaching services for a fee. All MOOCs operate on the Internet to some degree. While some MOOCs have been designed to incorporate in-person meetings of students, such as local study groups, all materials and interactivity within a course are generally facilitated online. Many formal college courses now also occur parallel to MOOC courses, with some activities performed in physical classrooms and some performed online (Agarwal & TED, 2014; Collins et al., 2013).

Perhaps the most defining element of a MOOC is that they are centered on a course of study. MOOCs are generally real-time, organized events in which participants are time bound on a course of study around a topic with deadlines and a syllabus (Spector, 2014). This is in contrast to other learning technologies on the Internet, such as articles and text resources, professional learning communities, and tutorials. Participants can ignore course trajectories based on their interests. The diversity of ways in which participants use MOOCs have led to research on course and curricular sequence in MOOCs (Collins et al., 2013; DeBoer et al., 2014).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Active Learning: Experiences that require learners to actively participate in activities, to reflect on their experiences, and to interact with technology and other people in order to develop a deeper understanding of a subject.

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC): An online educational course that is open to anyone to participate, often free of cost.

Learning Management System (LMS): Applications that are designed to manage and deliver content to participants within an online course.

Certificates of Completion: Documents issued by MOOC providers that certify that a participant has successfully completed a course, usually for a fee.

Learning Analytics: Combined automatic data collection and analysis that tracks participant activity and provide statistics on how participants approach course content and activities.

Badges: Digital graphic icons that are “awarded” to participants in online spaces to indicate degrees of participation within the environment or completion of objectives within the environment.

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