In 2013, we launched our first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in a joint venture with Futurelearn. This was our first experience of riding the large waves of providing online support for a course with literally thousands of online learners. Afterwards we evaluated this provision and applied the lessons learned in the second iteration of the course in Spring 2014. As MOOCs continue to gain popularity and course registration numbers in the UK continue to increase we realised that we need to be gearing up to be able to ride giants.
Our session is important to the field of online learner support as we focus on ways of developing procedural decision-making processes to support effective online facilitation of a massive number of learners.
Our presentation is likely to be of interest to practitioners, researchers, academic content creators and project managers.
The presentation will be evenly distributed in two halves. During the first half, we will outline the main challenges we met, and the evaluation we made of them. In the second half, we will describe the protocols we developed, and will illustrate how we applied these protocols using specific scenarios.
The FutureLearn platform is currently unique with its one-step-one-discussion forum approach and our experience so far of delivering three MOOCs indicates that this encourages online participation (Nelson 2014). Steps may include videos, articles, activities, quizzes, or bespoke discussion activities which become common spaces where learners can share their insights, concerns, opinions, doubts, questions, and suggestions.
This affordance posed two main challenges, the first being in supporting massive participation from such a gigantic learning community, as there were individual steps that recorded over a thousand comments. To accommodate this challenge, a facilitation team was created, in turn giving rise to the second challenge, facilitator management. It turned out that procedural decision-making was required on an almost daily basis.
The scenarios we describe will range from specific content-based questions from learners to technical troubleshooting, code of conduct breakage, identification of activity peaks, assessment issues and facilitator hours allocation. It should be noted that, although our protocols were design to operate within the pedagogical structure of the FutureLearn platform, we understand that many of the scenarios described here can emerge in other platforms with different forum distributions (Brinton et al 2013).
Brinton, C. G. et al (2013). Learning about social learning in MOOCs: from statistical analysis to generative model. Cornell University Library Xiv:1312.2159.Accessed from http://arxiv.org/abs/1312.2159
Nelson S. (2014). Updated numbers from our platform. FutureLearn Blog. Accessed from https://about.futurelearn.com/blog/updated-numbers/
|Affiliation||University of Southampton|