Friday, 17 May 2013

#MOOC @Edinburgh report on organizing 6 Coursera MOOCs

Last week the University of Edinburgh released their first report on their experiences gained after having organized 6 MOOC courses via Coursera. In this 34 page report they provide insights on organizing a Coursera MOOC, the success rates, their lessons learned, and how they went about in setting up the courses.

This is the summary they provide and it gives a good overview of all the subjects addressed in the report:

In January 2013, the University of Edinburgh launched six MOOCs on the Coursera virtual  learning environment (VLE) platform [].  These were short fully-online courses, each lasting either 5 or 7 weeks, and they had a total initial enrolment of just over 309,000 learners.

Six different subject areas were chosen, reflecting the University’s diverse spread of  disciplines, with two MOOCs offered by each of the three academic Collegesin the University: Humanities and Social Sciences (Introduction to Philosophy; E-learning and Digital Cultures); Science and Engineering (Artificial Intelligence Planning; Astrobiology and the Search for Life on Other Planets); Medicine and Veterinary Medicine (Equine Nutrition; Critical Thinking in Global Challenges). AI Planning was developed at Master level, the rest were at undergraduate (Bachelor) level.

Each MOOC team chose a course structure best suited for the delivery of their subject matter; as a result, six different course structures were produced, with several teams experimenting with content delivery and collaboration methods outwith the Coursera VLE. Of the 309,628 people who registered on the Edinburgh MOOCs, 123,816 learners accessed the course sites(‘active learners’) during the first week of launch – an average of 40% of those enrolled - of whom 90,120 engaged with content in Week One. In total 165,158
individuals actively engaged with course content during the life span of the courses, and 36,266 learners engaged with week 5 assessments(29% average of initial active learners, with a range of 7-59% across the six courses). The MOOCs had no barriers to entry and exit, and the option existed to study without active engagement with quizzes or social media; this permits behaviour patterns distinct from those of on-campus degree courses.

A pre-launch (Entry) survey was sent to 217,512 unique email accounts one week before the courses began [22.01.13]; 45,182 individuals replied, giving a 21% response rate.  (Note that enrolment continued after this survey was sent out.)  15,351 responses were gathered in the end-of-course evaluation (Exit)surveys.
Of those who responded to the Entry survey, 75% indicated this was their first experience of a MOOC, and 53% were enrolled on only one MOOC offering. 203 countries were represented, with the highest proportion of respondents living in the USA (28%) and UK (11%). 33% were between 25-34 years of age, with ‘Teaching and education’ (17%) and ‘Student (college/university)’ (15%) as the highest represented areas of current employment. Over 70% of respondents indicated completion of degree-level academic achievement; a total of 40% respondents had achieved a postgraduate degree. These demographics were very similar to those of respondents in the combined Exit survey.

98% of Exit survey respondents indicated that “they felt they got out of the course(s) what they wanted”, with the great majority reporting that the length, pacing and level had been about right.  The most common time spent on study per week on the MOOCs was in the range 2-4hrs.

Both Entry and Exit surveys asked respondents for their reasons for enrolling, of which the main options chosen were to learn new subject matter and find out about MOOCs/online learning.  Gaining a certificate or career enhancement were less significant but more localised to specific MOOCs.

34,850 Statements of Accomplishment (SoAs) have been distributed to learners across the six courses – 21% of active learners or 12% of total enrolment, with ranges of 4-44% and 2-36%, respectively, across the individual courses.The whole process from initial partnership discussions with Coursera to completion of all six courses and distribution of SoAs took approximately 10 months. This document provides a summary of the 10-month process, including some comparisons between the six courses and our initial reflections on the data and our experiences in offering the MOOCs.


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