After the MOOC: analyzing data, telling stories

The final assignments arrived in early November. The grades went out a week later (and in theory 1,196 people started celebrating the fact that they passed). So what have I been doing, you might ask, since I finished teaching Northwestern’s first massively open online course?

Mostly, I have been trying to figure out what actually happened over the six weeks of “Understanding Media by Understanding Google” on Coursera, and then start writing about it (spoiler alert: links below).

Naturally, I have been working on my two winter syllabi as well, with the quarter set to begin on January 6. And since one of the two is for the on-campus version of the undergraduate course that gave rise to the MOOC, there is a fair amount to do.

But to understand “Understanding Media” (to be sort of meta about it), I have been going to the data … and there is a lot of it, both from the class itself and from a 20-question post-course survey I administered. Of the 1,196 people who earned a “statement of accomplishment,” more than 800 responded, as well as a smaller number of people who wound up not earning the required 70 points out of 100.

It’s so much data that the discipline required to turn a bunch of numbers into a narrative is, as usual, quite helpful, even though some–like the simple chart above, about what students found interesting–can speak for themselves.

Read more