Research raises MOOC participation concerns

Even as massive open online courses (MOOCs) continue to assume an increasingly prominent role in higher education, the majority of enrolled students fail to participate in online forums meant to reproduce a classroom environment, according to University researchers, Stanford Daily reports. Having examined forum usage data from 23 Stanford MOOCs offered from early 2012 to early 2013, researchers from the Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning (VPOL) found a positive correlation between forum participation and student scores, even as fewer than 10 percent of all students enrolled – which for some classes can total in the thousands — posted to the forums at all. “One of the great things about these MOOCs is the diversity,” said Marc Sanders Ph.D. ’94, a VPOL instructional designer and one of the researchers. “You can think of having 30,000 people or 100,000 people in your class as being kind of overwhelming.”

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