What We Learned When We Compared Discussion Posts from One MOOC Hosted on Two Platforms

Rebecca M. Quintana, Juan D. Pinto, Yuanru Tan

Abstract


We compared discussion posts from a data science ethics MOOC that was hosted on two platforms. We characterized one platform as “open” because learners can respond to discussion prompts while viewing and responding to others. We characterized the other platform as “locked” because learners must respond to a discussion prompt before they can view and respond to others. Our objective is to determine whether these platform differences are consequential and have the potential to impact learning. We analyzed direct responses to two discussion prompts from two modules located in modules two and six of an eight module course. We used conventional content analysis to derive codes directly from the data. Posts on the “open” platform were characterized by failure to completely address the prompt and showed evidence of persuasion tactics and reflective activity. Posts on the “locked” platform were characterized by an apparent intent to complete the task and an assertive tone. Posts on the “locked” platform also showed a diversity of ideas through the corpus of responses. Our findings show that MOOC platform interfaces can lead to qualitative differences in discussion posts in ways that have the potential to impact learning. Our study provides insight into how “open” and “locked” platform designs have the potential to shape ways that learners respond to discussion prompts in MOOCs. Our study offers guidance for instructors making decisions on MOOC platform choice and activities situated within a learning experience.

We used conventional content analysis to derive codes directly from the data. Posts on the “open” platform were characterized by failure to completely address the prompt and showed evidence of persuasion tactics and reflective activity. Posts on the “locked” platform were characterized by an apparent intent to complete the task and an assertive tone. Posts on the “locked” platform also showed a diversity of ideas through the corpus of responses. Our findings show that MOOC platform interfaces can lead to qualitative differences in discussion posts in ways that have the potential to impact learning. Our study provides insight into how “open” and “locked” platform designs have the potential to shape ways that learners respond to discussion prompts in MOOCs. Our study offers guidance for instructors making decisions on MOOC platform choice and activities situated within a learning experience.

Keywords


MOOCs, discussion forums, user interface design, learning experience design

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v25i4.2897



Copyright (c) 2021 Rebecca M. Quintana, Juan D. Pinto, Yuanru Tan

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