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.

On principles

Why do we need principles?

“…abstract ideas are conceptual integrations which subsume and incalculable number of concretes – and without abstract ideas you would not be able to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems. You would be in the position of a newborn infant, to whom every object is a unique, unprecedented phenomenon. The difference between his mental state and yours lies in the number of conceptual integrations your mind has performed.  You have no choice about the necessity to integrate your observations, your experiences, your knowledge into abstract principles.”  (Rand, 1982, p.6)

Source: Rand, A. (1982). Philosophy: Who needs it. New York: Bobbs-Merrill.