Instructional Quality of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

I was pleased to hear that our paper on the quality of instructional design of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has been accepted for publication in Computers and Education.  

Abstract:  We present an analysis of instructional design quality of 76 randomly selected Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The quality of MOOCs was determined from first principles of instruction, using a course survey instrument. Two types of MOOCs – xMOOCs and cMOOCs – were analysed and their instructional design quality was assessed and compared. We found that the majority of MOOCs scored poorly on most instructional design principles. However, most MOOCs scored highly on organisation and presentation of course material. The results indicate that although most MOOCs are well-packaged, their instructional design quality is low. We outline implications for practice and ideas for future research.

The full paper will be available online shortly; in the meantime, a draft is available for download.

It took 18 months to get to this stage from the conception of the study:

  • conception of the project idea and securing internal funding for a research assistant – Feb 2013;
  • search and recruitment of a research assistant – Feb-Jul 2013 (6 months);
  • data collection – Sep-Dec 2013 (4 months);
  • data analysis – Jan 2014;
  • publication – Feb-Aug 2014 (7 months), including: (i)submission of the first draft of the article – Feb 2014; (ii) review received – Apr 2014; (iii) resubmission of 2nd draft – May 2014; (iv)second review received – Jul 2014; (v) resubmission and acceptance of the final draft – Aug 2014.  

So the actual conception and execution of the study took just 6/18 months…

Citation: Margaryan, A., Bianco, M., & Littlejohn, A. (in press). Instructional quality of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Computers and Education.

Key factors in the design of social services

We are currently working on the development of an interface to support charting collective knowledge, I have been thinking about the key factors that are important in the design of social services. Here is the initial list:

  1. Social object – What people care about together. Jyri Engeström argues that social services that fail to understand and articulate the social object(s) that mediate the ties between people (their users) do not succeed (bibliography)
  2. Strength of ties – How strongly people care about one another. Ties can be weak, strong or temporary
  3. Familiarity – Do people know about one another’s existence, are they networked with one another
  4. Similarity – How similar are people (eg in terms of interest, goals). What do they in common that’s relevant for what they are looking for?
  5. Difference – How different are people? What aspects are different that make it relevant for people to know one another or to link with one another in order to achieve what they need. Differences are not sufficiently emphasised in the way social tools currently support connections between people. Focusing only on similarity is problematic in that it reinforces homophily. Identifying similarity is easy, but what would algorythms based on difference be? More fundamentally, would people use a service that recommends them the opposite of what they think they want/expect. And how different can something be before people are no longer willing to even consider it (bibliography)

Any other factors?