Created by Puffin study group @ ITDD, Aarhus University: Heidi Brønsbjerg, Casper Albertsen, Lis Zacho and Bjarke Lindsø Andersen
Context, process and vision
In January our study group studying IT-didactical design was presented with the assignment for this semester: Participate in a MOOC with the purpose of suggesting a redesign based on your experiences. Our group consists of four members: One who had previously participated in a MOOC, and three who hadn’t. We felt it was an excellent starting point, because it gave us the opportunity to rely on previous experiences while staying open to the immediate experience.
The MOOC we were participating in was in Blended Learning provided by FutureLearn.com - a private company that has been offering MOOCs since September 2013.
We immediately committed to the MOOC, and looked forward to five weeks of reflected learning. Obviously we stayed open and constructive in our criticism of the platform in order to identify a challenge it would make sense for us to meet.
Even though we joined the MOOC with a special agenda (suggestion a design proposal), and therefore should be particularly committed to complete the course and participate in all the assignments, it soon became clear to us, that this MOOC was not what we expected.
it soon became clear to us, that this MOOC was not what we expected.
We had anticipated and imagined a community of learning, where the MOOCers were provided the opportunity to discuss matters with each other, and where the professional dialogue was paramount. We saw something else.
Early on we saw that the communication between MOOCers was sparse. As our research data shows, there are only a few examples of professional inputs being seized by MOOCers and discussed. Mainly it’s solo-inputs that are either “liked”, or replied to with comments like “I agree”, or the likes of it.
The amount of comments over the course’s five weeks tells us, that the active participation drops significantly. Within the members of our group this also meant that some of us didn’t finish the course despite our honorable intentions.
This was the challenge we decided to rise to: We wanted to suggest a redesign that could support the professional dialogue in order to maintain the attention, and active participation of the MOOCers.
We discussed many different ideas: maybe we could change the current opportunities for participating in networks when MOOCers first join the course on FutureLearn.com? Maybe we could create different chat rooms divided in categories like geography, language or level of education? To specify the problem to ourselves we conducted two workshops trying out two different ways of MOOCing.
Workshop 1 was a remake of the MOOC we had been participating in at FutureLearn.com: The MOOCers took the classes separately, and had to reflect on their own answers and learning.
Workshop 2 had the same assignments as Workshop 1, but this time we forced the MOOCers to take part in a video conference where they could reflect with other learners, and discuss the assignments together.
After the workshops the participants explained that they had the most benefit from Workshop 2. More interesting though, is the fact that in spite of the participants’ general feeling of benefitting the most from workshop 2, they still preferred the ways of workshop 1 if they had to chose between the two ways of MOOCing.
In other words theres is a discrepancy between what MOOCers want, and what they seem to need.
The result of all this was our redesign which we will describe in this blog post. Because MOOCers participate voluntarily, we have designed our suggestion as an opportunity that MOOCers can choose when signing up for a course, that is the opportunity to collaborate with others in an online study group.
In its simplest, our vision is to enhance the opportunities for discussion for those who want to.
Before and after: Video pitch
Below, we present our design in two ways. First in a video that shows a before and after scenario from the perspective of the MOOC participants. Secondly we do a walkthrough with pictures of the concrete design interface changes, which focuses on how the online experience has changed.
A walkthrough of our design
In the following we will walk you through what our final design proposal look like, when our fictive persona, Anaba, is about to join and participate in the same MOOC after it has been re-designed. Along the way we will argue theoretically and empirically for our design proposal.
Joining the course