Members of the MOOC observatory recently presented at the FutureLearn Academic Network (FLAN) meeting at the University of Southampton. The meeting was well attended by a number of FutureLearn partners, coming from the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Groningen, Keio, Lancaster, Leicester, Reading, Sheffield, Southampton, Warwick; and the British Council, the British Library, and the Open University.
The presentations covered a range of themes around SMART tools and approaches to researching MOOCs:
* Ayse Saliha Sunar presented Visualisation of Social Networks by using Gnuplot in the ‘PechaKucha‘ session. She shared her experience the tool to visualise learners’ interactions and the strength of their interactions in a 3D scatter-plot graph. She particularly focused on limitations of scatter-plots in identifying learners’ interactions in massive scale.
* Adriana Wilde talked about “What is success anyway? : defining success in the context of FutureLearn MOOCs”. In her PechaKucha, she showed the tensions between satisfaction and completion in terms of MOOCs course design. The measures of success as currently understood by the community are challenged. Completion in MOOCs (in contrast to face-to-face instruction), is no longer a reliable measure in this context as much of it depends on the goals the learner had when joining. An alternative measure is needed.
* Manuel León-Urrutia presented a Learning Analytics project called The UoS MOOC Dashboard (see slides here). The project consists of a MOOC data visualisation tool for institutional stakeholders such as learning designers, educators, and it is expected to be implemented within the framework of the Southampton University Web Observatory, as the project has received funding from the Web Science Institute.
* Tim O’Riordan outlined his use of digital tools to reveal and analyse patterns in MOOC discussion forum comments(slides, paper). These included MS Excel (spreadsheet and VBA), NVivo (qualitative data analysis), LIWC (text analysis), Socrative (audience response), SPSS (predictive analysis), Tableau (data visualisation) and Weka (machine learning).
* Steve White discussed the use of Socio-Technical Interaction Networks to understand the socio-technical construction of MOOCs in HE. This approach seeks to balance concerns with social and technical factors in understanding the use of information systems in organisations, and avoid simplistic assumptions about the impact or effects of technologies.
* In addition to the above speakers from the MOOC Observatory, Leah Marks, from the University of Glasgow presented on “Plagiarism detection in MOOC peer review”, where she shared experiences on the FutureLearn MOOC “Cancer in the 21st Century: The Genomic Revolution”.
We also enjoyed discussions of ethics in MOOC research from Professor Mike Sharples and Dr Rebecca Ferguson from the O.U. (slides), and Dr Jocelyn Wisehart from the University of Bristol.
The day was rounded off with a panel discussion on the difference between practice and research in MOOCs with Dr Su White of Southampton’s Web and Internet Science Group (Director of the MOOC Observatory) and Dr Christian Bokhove of the University of Southampton Education School.
The livestream recording of the event can be watched here.