MOOC, Online Learning, publication, Research

How Do Online Learners Overcome Challenges in MOOCs? [New Publication]

In analyzing recent MOOC research, a number of studies explore the vast amount of data collected by digital learning platforms to understand learning behaviors in these scaled classes. What we don’t know much about is:

  • How online learners resolve the problems
  • How students online persist in a course
  • The strategies MOOC students use to overcome challenges

In a new publication, The Life Between Big Data Log Events: Learners’ Strategies to Overcome Challenges in MOOCs, George Veletsianos, Justin Reich, and I share what we learned from talking to 92 MOOC students ages 21 to 81 enrolled in 4 different courses from North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. The whole paper is free and available for your reading pleasure at the new open access education journal, AERA Open, and check out the research findings presented in this short video summary created by moi:

During these interviews, we learned that there is so much more going on beyond the screen, tracking logs, and platform learning analytics. Learners shared how they engaging in the online course and activities in three domains:

  1. Describing their designated workstations and study methods for learning
  2. Utilizing online and outside resources beyond the learning platform
  3. Engaging with social networks both inside and outside the online course

Read more here:

Veletsianos, G., Reich, J., & Pasquini, L. A. (2016). The life between big data log events: Learners’ strategies to overcome challenges in MOOCs. AERA Open, 2(3); 1–10. doi: 10.1177/2332858416657002

EdTech, Higher Education, Online Learning

Online Education in the US [2014 Report]

As I am on my way to the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI & #eli2015), specifically to attend the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancement (DETA) Summit, I figured it was critical to review the 2014 Grade Level: Tracking Online Education in the United States just released from the Babson Survey Research Group (BSRG):

“The study’s findings point to a competitive marketplace, in which traditional institutions are gaining ground on the for-profits in online and distance education,” said study co-author Jeff Seaman, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group. “While the rapid pace of online learning growth has moderated, it still accounts for nearly three-quarters of all US higher education’s enrollment increases last year.”

It is clear that online learning is on the rise in America – yet there is a vast difference between how administration and faculty view it. A majority of post-secondary education leaders (70.8%)  indicated that online learning is “critical to their long-term strategy;” however these leaders may struggle with online adoption as only 28% of their faculty find “value” and view online education as “legitimate.” A number of findings in this report show opposing views for online education. For example, these two factions of higher differ  by their awareness of open education resources (OER).

OER_FutureHE

There is much more of this narrative to tease out; and I would like to go through this report further (on the plane) and learn what others in the field have to say. For now I will leave you with some of the ‘quick facts’ shared, and encourage you to download and read through the FULL REPORT if you are in the online learning sphere:

Key report findings include:

  • The number of higher education students taking at least one distance education course in 2014 is up 3.7 %t from the previous year.
  • The year-to-year 3.7% increase in the number of distance education students is the lowest recorded over the 13 years of this report series.
  • Public and private nonprofit institutions recorded distance enrollment growth, but these were offset by a decrease among for-profit institutions.
  • The percent of academic leaders rating the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face remained unchanged at 74.1%.
  • The proportion of chief academic leaders reporting online learning is critical to their long-term strategy reached a new high of 70.8%.
  • Only 28.0% of academic leaders say that their faculty accept the “value and legitimacy of online education.”
  • The adoption of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) is reaching a plateau, only 8.0% of higher education institutions currently offer one, another 5.6% report MOOCs are in the planning stages.
  • The proportion of academic leaders who believe that MOOCs represent a sustainable method for offering online courses dropped to 16.3%.

Update:

A couple areas to note, and for further discussion this week at #eli2015 and the #DETAsummit (Follow @UWMDETA):

Pgs. 43-44: Discuss the undercount and overcount of distance education, i.e. for “fully online” enrollments – this seems to be hazy, as it might be as learning design for enrollment varies by student population type and course design delivery.

Pg. 44 – “The definition of ‘distance education’ is causing confusion”

There was an interesting segment in this report that struggled with the term “distance education.” This report takes into account distance education, when looking at “fully online” higher education programs. This part of the report reminded me about the Twitter debate of online learning, online education, distance education, and then some when trying to name an update to an edited book. Check out “The State of ______ Learning” thread on Storify to learn what was discussed. What terminology is best? How can we describe/define education that is delivered from a distance/online/on the web/virtually? Please advise.

Higher Education, MOOC

The State of #OnlineLearning in the US [REPORT]

The 11th annual survey and report of online learning in U.S. higher education was recently released:

Grade Change: Tracking Online Education in the United States”*

=> DOWNLOAD A FREE COPY HERE

Background: From previous studies and reports of online learning in the US, there is a strong belief that  online education is a critical component of post-secondary education institutions’ long-term strategy. In surveying a number of higher education entities, it is apparent that the development in online learning has shown a small but steady increases over the past decade. This report also teases out how PSE institutions are providing online education – blended, hybrid, and others as they experiment with different models of online learning pedagogy.

Screen Shot 2014-01-19 at 10.08.16 AM

The respondents from more than 2,800 post-secondary education institutions in the US, attempted to answer the following overarching questions about online learning in higher ed:

  • Is Online Learning Strategic?
  • Are Learning Outcomes in Online Comparable to Face-to-Face Learning?
  • How Many Students are Learning Online?
  • How are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) faring?

Key findings and highlights from the report: 

  • Around 5.5 (NOT 7.1) million higher education students are taking at least 1 online course (Read more: HERE and HERE)
  • The % of academic leaders rating the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those as in face-to-face instruction, grew from 57% in 2003 to 74% in 2013
  • The 6.1 % growth rate represents over 400,000 additional students taking at least 1 online course
  • The number of students taking at least 1 online course continued to grow at a rate far in excess of overall enrollments, but the rate was the lowest in a decade
  • 90% of academic leaders believe that it is likely or very likely that a majority of all higher education students will be taking at least one online course in 5 year’s time
  • Only 5 % of higher education institutions currently offer a MOOC, another 9.3 % report MOOCs are in the planning stages
  • Less than one-quarter of academic leaders believe that MOOCs represent a sustainable method for offering online courses

For more on the study design, survey administration, analysis,  and report production, check out The BABSON Survey Research Group: http://www.onlinelearningsurvey.com/

*The survey is designed, administered and analyzed by the BABSON Survey Research Group, with data collection conducted in partnership with the College Board, and is sponsored in part by Pearson and the Sloan Consortium

Update – 1/19/14 @ 6:45 pm:

It appears the BABSON survey numbers seem to be off from the IPEDS data for students who have completed online courses – 7.1 vs. 5.5 million. Thanks for the update, Kevin. Here’s a useful article to read.