Researchers have proposed that social media might offer many benefits to Massive Open Online Courses. Yet such claims are supported by little empirical evidence. The existing research exploring the use of social media in MOOCs has been conducted with individual courses and convenience samples, making it difficult to know to what extent research results are generalizable. In this mixed methods research, I used data mining techniques to retrieve a large-scale Twitter data set from 116 MOOCs with course-dedicated hashtags. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, I then examined users’ participation patterns, the types of users posting to those hashtags, the types of tweets that were posted, and the variation in types of posted tweets across users. I found little evidence to support the claims that Twitter as an adjunct to MOOCs is used much/effectively. Results show that learners make up only about 45% of users and contribute only about 35% of tweets. The majority of users contribute minimally, and an active minority of users contributes the preponderance of messages.
These findings do not reveal substantive evidence of learners contributing to multiple hashtags, which may suggest that learners did not find Twitter to be a useful space that provided added value or responded to their needs. Ultimately, these results demonstrate the need for greater intentionality in integrating social media into MOOCs.
I am linking to the pdf pre-print of this article below.
Veletsianos, G. (in press). Toward a Generalizable Understanding of Twitter and Social Media Use Across MOOCs: Who Participates on MOOC Hashtags and In What Ways? Journal of Computing in Higher Education.
It’s February, already?! This year, I’m excited to spend some time collaborating with a group of open education colleagues, as part of a BCcampus Open Education Advocacy and Research Fellowship. The rest of the team consists of Jennifer Barker, Ken Jeffery, and Rajiv Jhangiani. Good company!
Group selfie, by Rajiv Jhangiani (CC-BY)
The aims of the fellowship are to raise awareness of open educational practices and to conduct, present, and publish research on open educational practices at BC institutions. You can read more about what each of us is hoping to achieve in this announcement.
And since this fellowship is related to advocacy, please take 4 minutes and 40 seconds to watch the video below which summarizes the empirical evidence on efficacy and perceptions surrounding open textbooks.
“Educational technology seems to be suffering from an identity crisis. Many exciting things are happening in the field, but increasingly we educational technologists find ourselves on the sidelines in our own ballgame. People from other disciplines are taking an interest in educational technology, but they show little interest in our knowledge base (often even little awareness that it exists!) and little interest in our professional organizations and publications. Why is this happening? What can we do about it? To what extent might our mindset be the problem? What new directions do we need to pursue to improve the health and value of our field? These are the central issues which this article discusses.”
This could have been written yesterday, or five years ago. Or, 1989: Reigeluth, C. M. (1989). Educational technology at the crossroads: New mindsets and new directions. Educational Technology Research and Development, 37(1), 67-80.
Last week, a reporter from EdSurge reached out to me to shed some light on what Pearson called their Learning Design Principles. The EdSurge article is here, but below is a more detailed rough draft of the points that I made to share. I am posting them here for a fuller picture of some of my thoughts.
- Nothing proprietary (yet, perhaps). I saw a number of sources note that Pearson released their proprietary learning design principles. There’s not much proprietary in the principles. All of these ideas are well-documented in the literature pertaining to educational technology found in cognitive psychology, learning sciences, instructional design, and education literature.
- It’s good to see that Pearson is using findings from the education literature to guide its design and development. Some of these principles should be standard practice. If you are creating educational technology products without considering concepts like instructional alignment, feedback, and scaffolding, authentic learning, student-centered learning environments, and inquiry-based learning, you are likely creating more educational harm than good. The point is that using research to guide educational technology should be applauded and emulated. More educational technology companies should be using research to inform their designs and product iterations.
- BUT, since around 2011, the educational technology industry has promoted the narrative that education has not changed since the dawn of time. With a few exceptions, the industry has ignored the history, theory, and research of the academic fields associated with improving education with technology. The industry has ignored this at its own peril because we have a decent – not perfect, but decent – understanding of how people learn and how we can help improve the ways that people learn. But, the industry has developed products and services starting from scratch, making the same mistakes that other have done in the past, while claiming that their products and services will disrupt education.
- Not all of the items released are principles. For example, “pedagogical agents” is on the list but that’s not a principle. Having studied the implementation of pedagogical agents for more than 7 years, it’s clear that what Pearson is attempting to do is figure our how to better design pedagogical agents for learning. Forgive me while I link to some pdfs of my past work here, but, should amagent’s representation match the content area that they are supporting (should a doctor look like a doctor or should she have a blue mohawk?). Table 1 in this paper provides more on principles for designing pedagogical agents (e.g., agents should establish their role so that learners have a clear anticipation of what the agent can and cannot do: Does the agent purport to know everything or is the agent intended to ask questions but provide no answers?)
- As you can tell from the above, I firmly believe that industry needs research/researchers in developing, evaluating, and refining innovations.
But more importantly, happy, merry, just, and peaceful holidays to everyone!