Finding the Design Basic for MOOCs: Analyzing the UIs of edX, Coursera, and Udacity

Finding the Design Basic for MOOCs: Analyzing the UIs of edX, Coursera, and Udacity

Sandra G. Jiménez-González (Universidad Politécnica de Aguascalientes, Mexico), Huizilopoztli Luna-García (Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, Mexico) and Ricardo Mendoza-González (Instituto Tecnologico de Aguascalientes, Mexico)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9743-0.ch005
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The platforms edX, Coursera, and Udacity are pioneers in MOOCs distribution and access providing and their popularity among people grows daily. Prestigious universities, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, among others, support their courses, which are conducted by the best Professors and academic staff. On the other hand, these platforms provide adequate interactions for users, focusing in encourage the appropriation of knowledge and competences related to specific topics. User Interfaces include video-lectures display; quizzes; forums; slides, code and many other resources. However, there are certain interaction features that are not common among these platforms and undoubtedly could improve the user experience. The objective of this chapter is to highlight those interactive elements and provide an alternative for well-designed user interfaces for MOOCs including generic interactions which able users to properly perform their activities and achieve their learning goals. The findings will be discussed and then reflected in a prototype.
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Nowadays, the teaching and learning demand is growing inordinately around the world; this phenomenon suggests the need of radical changes and innovative strategies oriented to reinforce currently available techniques.

Additionally, new learning proposals should encourage lifelong learning, besides factors such as society, professional life, among others. In this way the process should be customized, adapting itself to the student requirements and abilities. Similarly it should consider student’s free time, other activities and the acquired knowledge through both cultural and educational life of the student (Christopher, 2013).

There is a need that can be fulfill with a tool that gives the possibility to be used in different times and places, a tool host in the cloud that allows the self-taught person easy access to the information and tuition during the learning process. This tool that gives solution to this requirement is a MOOC.

The main goal of the MOOCs is mostly focused on provide access to the people who are looking for get their education completed, or even the people who want to extend their education, but in some way cannot do that in Universities in classroom (Dasarathy, Sullivan, Schmidt, Fisher, & Porter, 2014).

The MOOCs are developed based on the great experience of the biggest Universities in the subject of distance education and open resources or free distribution resources.

The MOOCs are accessible, and the high quality courses allow to the students to develop knowledge to support their own learning goals (Al-Zoube, 2009). The main attribute or strength of these courses is their scalability, meaning that, a course which has been already developed can be reach globally, allowing to the big amount of students to be part of the specific topic.

The biggest achievements of the MOOCs include the capability of get together some of the finest academic people of the best Universities through the world in order to develop the material and resources, and the more special one are to offer free courses. The MOOCs are often known as supercharged distance education courses.

Currently the MOOCs are in growing and consolidation process, they are found in many subjects, such as, math, sciences, computing, social sciences, economics, finance, and business.

Thanks to the increasing amount of the information sources through network, the MOOCs have been better structured, having in account with some rules which are integrating them into the formal education, the courses have initial date and deadline, in which the students can register and now, the courses have forums, wikis, and a big quantity of tools which help to make formal the education through MOOCs.

Different ideologies have driven MOOCs in distinct pedagogical directions, but the two most important are: the connectivist MOOCs (cMOOCs) which are based on a connectivism theory of learning with networks developed informally; and content-based MOOCs (xMOOCs), which follow a more behaviorist approach.

cMOOCs emphasise connected, collaborative leaning and the courses are built around a group of like-minded “individuals” who are relatively free from institutional constraints. cMOOCs provide a platform to explore new pedagogies beyond traditional classroom settings and, as such, tend to exist on the radical fringe of higher education. On the other hand, the instructional model (xMOOCs) is essentially an extension of the pedagogical models practiced within the institutions themselves, which is arguably dominated by the “drill and grill” instructional methods with video presentations, short quizzes and testing.

There are many platforms that host MOOCs, these platforms provide the user interface (UI).

UI is the space where interactions between humans and computers occur. The goal of this interaction is to allow effective operations and control of the computer from the human end, whilst the computer simultaneously feeds back information that aids the users decision making process. The user interface can arguably include the total “user experience,” which may include the aesthetic appearance of the device, response time, and the content that is presented to the user within the context of the user interface.

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