Learning from MOOC mistakes, one click at a time

Online education is getting a thorough review–one click at a time for 6.9 million clicks.


There are reams of data telling educators how students learn best online, what to avoid in designing a web-based course, and what needs to be done before students are consistently engaged. Perhaps none of that data is more detailed than the information analyzed in edX’s release of how 100,000 online students viewed course videos in its massive open online courses (MOOCs).

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) examined the viewing habits of those edX students in what amounted to a second-by-second look at when the online content was most engaging, as first mentioned in MIT News.

The lessons learned from studying how students interacted with 6.9 million video lectures were used to optimize CSAIL’s web-based learning platform known as LectureScape, billed as a “YouTube for MOOCs.”

LectureScape was designed with “interaction peaks” in mind. It’s those peaks that show educators when students are most engaged in the class material, and when they’re most confused. Simply getting MOOC registrants to watch even one lecture or interact with fellow students and professors has proven a major challenge for the nascent classes, though some MOOCs have seen overwhelming student satisfaction numbers.

CSAIL’s study of the 6.9 million clicks from edX’s classes showed five ways in which colleges and universities can improve web-based courses of all kinds.

(Next page: 5 ways to improve)

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