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What do educators’ contributions to MOOC discussion areas look like?

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Rebecca Ferguson
15 May 2017

Fereshte Goshtasbpour

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are being recognised as potentially the most accessible form of education due to their massiveness (no enrolment limits) and openness (free to join with no entry requirements). Nevertheless, their scale and openness have made teaching and interacting with learners complex. Interacting with large number of demographically diverse learners with different educational background, languages and motivation are not easy tasks. This is a noticeably absent area from the MOOC emergent research [1] which this doctoral study attempts to address.

To achieve this, the type, level and timing of the teaching team’s interactions with learners in the discussion areas of three FutureLearn MOOCs were examined. The content of 885 exchanges between lead educators, educators and mentors (teaching team), and learners were analysed through the lens of the Community of Inquiry framework. The teaching team’s level of contributions in terms of the number of their exchanges with learners at three points of each course (beginning, middle and end) was also looked at. These exchanges were then studied in connection with the timing of the teaching team’s engagement with them. After this stage, a sample of 14 lead educators, educators and mentors were interviewed to gain more insight into the teaching team’s approaches to engaging with discussions, the rationale behind their engagement and their intended outcomes while exploring the factors that influenced their contributions.

In this presentation, I will report the findings from the first stage of my study and will describe the teaching team’s engagement with discussions in terms of their social, pedagogical and cognitive contributions while covering the level and timing of each contribution type.

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