Social media can enhance MOOCs, if offered correctly

Dive Brief:

  • A study by researchers in Australia offers new insights into the ways social media can be most effective as a secondary platform for communication and collaboration in massive open online courses.
  • According to eCampus News, the study featured a survey of 150 participants in a MOOC for educators (ages 46 and older) that used CourseSites’ learning management system as well as Twitter and Facebook, finding many participants did not want to use social media in what was a professional environment.
  • Some students said the social media platforms offered too many options for communication, diluting the interactions, but researchers found the participants who used them gained value from doing so, indicating MOOC instructors should explain the benefits of such additional conversation at the start of new courses.

Dive Insight:

Massive open online courses have struggled to achieve high levels of student engagement. Virtually all online courses more generally strive to create opportunities for interaction among students in situations where they don’t get to see each other face-to-face. Even traditional classroom teachers are experimenting with new engagement tools that allow students to communicate with each other in class and continue the conversation at the end of the period with each other as well as the instructor.

Peer learning is key to the value of student interaction, whether virtual or in-person. The latest survey results reinforce the idea that peer-to-peer interaction helps improve learning outcomes for students. The key challenge is identifying the right way to foster them.

Recommended Reading

eCampus News: Can social media enhance the MOOC experience?