Disruptive democratisers? The complexities and incongruities of scale, diversity and personalisation in MOOCs

Hood, Nina and Littlejohn, Allison (2018). Disruptive democratisers? The complexities and incongruities of scale, diversity and personalisation in MOOCs. In: Ossiannilsson, Ebba ed. Ubiquitous Inclusive Learning in a Digital Era. IGI Global, pp. 1–28.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-5225-6292-4.ch001

Abstract

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are signalled as disruptive and democratising. It is claimed MOOCs have characteristics that challenge traditional forms of education. This chapter critiques these claims, arguing that MOOCs do not always allow for the diverse motivations of masses of learners. This brings into question forms of data-based support based on and in response to learner behaviours. The chapter interrogates narrative accounts of MOOC learner experiences to pinpoint four distinct ways people learn in MOOCs. Factors critical to learning are motivation, self-regulation, environment and socialisation. Developing analytic tools that address these are important. However, analytics systems tend to personalize learner support in relation to pre-defined course goals, rather than focusing on the goals of the learner. Future systems could empower learners to follow their own goals, flexing course designs to fit the goals of each learner, rather than the student having to adapt to a course designed for the masses.

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