Creating a Sticky MOOC

Barbara Ann Oakley, Debra Poole, MaryAnne Nestor


Learning How to Learn, a MOOC from UC San Diego, is one of Coursera’s most successful offerings; in its first year, nearly one million learners enrolled in the course. As a result of its high student satisfaction levels (4.55 on a 5-point Likert scale) and the persistence of strong student interest in the course, it is worth examining the course’s dynamics more closely in an effort to tease out its sources of satisfaction and popularity. For this paper, we used students’ responses to an open-ended question to develop a list of potentially important “stickiness” features. A subset of students enrolled in the third session of Learning How to Learn then rated their overall satisfaction with the course and the extent to which each feature contributed to their persistence in the course. Three primary factors suggested by a factor analysis of stickiness items correlated most highly with course satisfaction: Instructor Quality, Conceptual Clarity/Importance, and Format. A description of the course creation process explains how these factors were achieved through the use of metaphor and analogy, instructor interactions with the graphics, the use of motion to maintain students’ attention, tight scripting, a relaxed presentation demeanor, volunteer TA support, and relevant yet occasionally humorous quizzes.


MOOCs, popular

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