Join OEE’s discussion on how to create a MOOC that students finish

On 28 February Open Education Europa is inviting you to join an online discussion on how to create a MOOC that students finish.

This free chat discussion is organised as part of OEE’s February focus on MOOCs. We want to ask you –  the OEE community – about what makes a course attractive enough for students to complete. We’ll be exploring top tips and best practices, as well as solutions to common challenges. So if you’ve ever taken part in organising a MOOC or you’ve enrolled in one, join our free discussion and share your experience with us.

The online event will be moderated by Johanni Larjanko, Editor-in-Chief for the international journal Adult Education and Development.

The discussion will take place on this page between 13:00PM and 14:00PM CET on 28 February 2017. Before taking part, make sure you’re logged into your account (creating an account is free).


Good morning and welcome to today’s online discussion on how to plan a MOOC that people stay with until the end! Today I’m joined by Johanni Larjanko, Editor-in-Chief for the international journal Adult Education and Development.
Hello everyone
Hi Mary and Johanni.
Hello sanjeet :-)
Hello, I wish to join as well.
Hi from Sweden, looking forward to discuss. I am a quality reviewer and researcher on MOOCs, and have also taken some 40+ myself as well as developed MOOCs
Is this a textchat discussion or a webconference?
this is a textbased chat
Welcome Ebba and Andreas
Hello from Slovenia. I teach math and I participated in quite some MOOSs so far.
Breda's picture
Excellent. Let's get started :-)
Welcome also to Maria and Breda :-)
Please write a short note in the chat window about your connection with MOOCs, and your expectations for todays meet
Thank you,
Breda's picture
Just a short introduction: I have already retired (as a university teacher), so as a hobby learner, I enjoy MOOCs and other interesting onliner activities. I am from Hungary, Miskolc.
I'm looking forward to hear more about others' experiences with creating MOOCs .
my name is Johanni, i work with lifelong learning both within an NGO, as a teacher, and as a lifelong learner. I have attended a few MOOCs and also discussed them in various settings.
Thank you Maria1
Founder of German MOOC platform mooin with more than 25 MOOCs and project manager of 4 MOOC projects with 2.6 Mio Euro funding money.
I am a quality reviewer and researcher on MOOCs, and have also taken some 40+ myself as well as developed MOOCs. My expectation are about how we can look at quality in other ways as usually for education, as MOOCs are something else and serve other goals and target groups
Thank you Andreas and Ebba
Hi, I am elisabete from portugal, and i already joined some differents Moocs
I've never develop my own MOOC so far, but I participated in some, I I think this is very good opportunity to learn some new thinngs
Breda's picture
I like MOOCs as a learner. OK, let´s start: Who thinks that fixed start and end dates are better for learner experience, and why?
far's picture
The theme for today is how to create a MOOC that students finish. My first question to you is this: is that a goal, that they finish?
OK let´s go with larjanko´s question. I think finishing is not necessary. Learners can just take some parts of a MOOC, depending on their goals.
far's picture
No, this is thinking of presence universities. MOOCs are non formal education.
For me, the validation at the end of a MOOC places an importance on finishing. However, there could be more flexibility in how MOOCs are assessed. For instance, I might be more likely to stay to the end if there was not a certificate at the end; it can feel demoralising to not have the time to finish and could put people off signing up to others.
I think some participants want to know some things, they don't really want to finish as the MOOC has no formal value for them
Breda's picture
I agree with Breda and MaryClare
So, in line with Andreas comment above perhaps ”The bottom line is that people who do MOOCs really want to learn. They are not largely motivated by pieces of paper, or even by completion.”
People enroll MOOCs with different attitudes, aims - it should be our goal, to meet their expectations. If they just wish to try, they should be able to do - but if they wish to learn the subject, we have to support them in their goal.
for me is important to finish to give a completely sense to the time giving to the formation, formal or no formal, but i am not always able to due to lake of time . The most important is so, to choose a good timming and a subject that really intereste me or goes towards my interestes that moment.
As MOOCs is very much about about self determined learning and learning by interest and intrinsic motivation, it can be an ultimate goal as such. As e all know there are different business models both for providers and learners, and also that MOOCs can serve both informal and formal learning
Do you agree?
Maria, well said! I agree.
Even the certificate doesnt't really mean anything formal for them, at their job it doesn't mean anything - except their own new knoowledge, of course.
Breda's picture
If we agree that completion is not a goal in itself, we still need to motivate learners, and keep them engaged. Right?
Most MOOC learners are not interest in certificates or open badges, and neither to collaborate in chats or forums or assignments
Yes I agree, motivating and keeping learners engaged is important.
MOOCs need another didactic and other formats, e.g. ondemand-learning like netflix.
Following up on sajeet: As i always love and like to start with the perspective of the learner, i ask you: What good experiences do you have from attending a mooc yourselves?
sure motivation is the highest priority, and for that self evaluation is of great importance as well as transparency and flexibility, so you know what to expect etc
MOOC, the new netflix, that is an interesting thought!
I do not agree, Ebba, we may enjoy participating in chats and even to get good feedback and success, even if the certificate is not important.
Hello! I agree with Maria. In addition, I think if the MOOC has a gamification structure, it could be more interesting, especially, for young people.
the best experiences come from the interation with the others and the oportunity to talk with some expertises.
Yes, motivation is still important. From my experience, engagement is key. E.g. discussion forums that are really active and not empty.
far's picture
from my perspective ot is very important about transparency awn easy to navigate in the course, so one know where one are, and of course to keep with fruitful and interesting material and resources
What good experiences do you have from attending a mooc yourselves? Please share!
Sometimes I enroll in Mooc even if I know I won't be able to finish everything due to lack of time, , just because the thematics is very interesting for me.
Breda's picture
Concretes, give me examples, details of succelful MOOCs where you attended! I am curious.
Just referring Maria to what mist studies show, and again it is different why learners are signing up for MOOCs
@elisabetep , I am Graciela from Argentina,and I agrre with you, For me MOOCs offer a very attractive environment for exploring the intersection between technology and pedagogy in the effort to improve our understanding of how to support, facilitate and enhance open and autonomous learning. In many cases, the most significant tasks can not be evaluated through a predetermined and automated gradient, since what is sought is for participants to exercise critical thinking and interpretive skills, and to answer questions in an argumentative way that does not Have answers that can be cataloged as"Correct" or"Incorrect". The same is true when evaluating management plans, innovation proposals, project designs, opinions on clinical histories, portfolios, and many other types of productions. In disciplines where only a small portion of The content lends itself well to an "automated" evaluation format, the efforts focus on the development of technologies based on "peer evaluation" ( Peer assessment), Where participants can evaluate and feedback the work of other participants in the learning activity. This technology is based on two bodies of knowledge. In the first place, the education sciences referred to the evaluation between students (Student peer reviews), A line in which participants should be trained in the use of evaluation gradients in order to increase the accuracy of the results in feedback to peers and enable students to be part of a valuable learning experience. On the other hand, peer evaluation experiences in virtual environments, take ideas from the literature on Crowd-sourcing  That studies the ways in which it can beTo consider several "ratings" (varying Degrees of reliability) and combine them to obtain a more accurate score, looking for grades with an accuracy comparable to or even higher than that offered by a single teacher evaluation. As an example of a rubric for peer evaluation in a MOOC context, we have selected the one used in the 2013 edition of the Introduction to Sustainability Course developed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Of Professor Jonathan Tomkin, world reference in the subject
I think good information that we can pratice and apply is the best we can take from a Mooc and the oportunity to talk to expertises. Young people looking for gamification, i am not sure if they look also for MOOC.
I enroll in Mooc too. They were interesting only for the topics
I am right now in a MOOC on Open Badges, and what i like with it is what Ebba mentions, it is very easy to nagivate, the different modules are collected in an easy to follow way, and ech module include several small sub-sections, so you always feel you make progress.
I sign up because the topic is in my interest, but also as a MOOC researcher and quality reviewer on MOOCs I also sign up to see the design
I prefer short courses with mostly visuals and language support. Collaborative tasks are very motivating.
My best experiences in MOOCs was when in the end we could realised we , a group, had interact, change really good ideas and also produce some thing imaginative, some thing we could tke with us to apply. Also to keep some ideas to the future, or had a good interaction in the foruns.
In my opinion, you can attend the Mooc only if you are interested in the topic and of course this learning modality is not for everyone. The effectiveness depends also on the referred target group.
One of my latest ones was on TEL by Athabasca U and COL, topic super interesting for me, but design and transparence terrible from learners perspective, very difficult to navigate and see where one are in the course and the results
I am disappointed, if MOOC is just an open courseware. And I hate to see too many options without real functions. Keeping navigation simply is important.
@larjanko The MOOC that mentioned in my previous posting introduces a sustainability approach from exploring how current societies are facing global change, ecosystem degradation and resource constraints, and focuses on key areas of knowledge theory and practice. Sustainability, including population, ecosystems, global change, energy, agriculture, water, environmental economics and politics, ethics, and cultural history. The rubric that we present corresponds to the evaluation of the performance in forums of the edition of March-June 2013, of eight weeks of duration. The requirements of approval of 2013 edition, adopted a personalized and experimental, according to the objectives and needs of the participants, according to three alternatives: a) certify through the correct response of 70% of the questions of a weekly questionnaire with a single opportunity Of completion per form. Those who would like to have outstanding performance should also have approved a questionnaire with their own original design with a multiple choice question that had to be evaluated by 5 pairs with a performance average of more than 82% of the values ​​of this item. In turn, the participant had to evaluate the questionnaires of other 5 participants and to self-evaluate their production. B) certify through the presentation of a project. In week 3, the idea of ​​a project that was evaluated by peers should be presented from a specific rubric. The same procedure was followed at week 8 with the complete project. In both instances he had to evaluate 5 pairs and self-evaluate. The approval was obtained if a minimum average of 70% of the maximum value assigned to each dimension of analysis of the project was achieved. The outstanding performance in this route was obtained by the one who was among the 1% who obtained the best grades. Participants with outstanding performance were invited to participate in a specific university publication on the subject of the course. C) certification from the performance in the forums of the course evaluated by the peers through the rubric that is In this alternative, the course offered the opportunity for discussion with thousands of people with an interest in sustainability issues on a global scale. Therefore, the discussion forums of the course were areas with great potential to share ideas and learn from others. After the study of lectures and lectures each week, participants were offered a question to discuss with their peers. Participants could value-up or down-each post. Was encouraged To "vote up" reflective messages, which do They To advance the conversation And that they were correctly drafted. On the contrary, they could receive "vote S down " Off-topic messages that will not let the conversation go forward or are not correctly worded. In order to achieve certification in this alternative, it was necessary to: 1- present an average of 5 or more messages per week within the planned discussion forums (this included new topics for discussion, such as responses to messages Initiated by the other participants); 2- to present a selection of the "best" weekly posts in the planned debates and to obtain a score of at least 70% in the evaluation of the own posts, made by the pairs. 1% of the participants who scored the highest in peer evaluations for periodically making valuable contributions to each other's messages and with their own messages recognized through multiple positive votes received the Outstanding Performance Certificate . Those who achieved outstanding performance certification were invited to a synchronous session online (or live, as an option). In this session, a panel composed of the teacher in charge of the course, several authors of the textbooks analyzed and other experts in sustainability, debated the topics proposed by the participants in more detail. The objective of this instance was to generate an opportunity for interaction with some of the main leaders of thought in this field, as well as to hear from the participants' points the strengths of the course and the proposals to improve it.
So Ebba, in a way content wins even in a bad design, but a good design can never cover bad content?
Most important from my learner´s perspective: 1. content is in "right" speed+density (not too slow or too difficult, however mostly the problem is they are too slow/lengthy/dull in their presentations), 2. active discussion forums that feel like you´re in a group of learners together. One good example was edx "Intro CS".
far's picture
Yes, I think interest and motivation and the joy of learning is most important, not t least the joy
Ebba already shared a poor experience (bad design) What about the rest of you: What poor experiences do you have from attending a mooc?
far, that sounds interesting!
@larjanko I agree, Good design implies academically updated and didactically presented content
i attenend a MOOC lacking a clear structure, and a lack of flexibility in pace, it was too fast and mechanical. I hated it, and dropped out.
The design is the most important thing by the new generation of MOOC platforms fka LMS. The UX is very important. In Lübeck we said: "Video is the new text" and on the web, you have to redesign your content in a more interactive way. PDFs are the dead of elearning ;-)
or, if drop-out is a word to avoid, i slipped out of the room... :-)
Andreas, oh yes, PDF is truly death. A fixed format, locked and sterile. i agree. what do the rest of you think?
noone else with poor experiences? Really?
@larjanko As I said above, the designs must be based on the interaction between peers encouraging the authentic apprehension connected with the rich reality of each of the global students
I vote for applying different tools, not only just video OR pdf but both.
Well Graciela, that is easier said than done, in my experience :-)
yes, interaction, and doing, practice and use of colaborative tools. are good for moocs.
Poor mooc experiences: 1. slow and repetitive presentation, 2. no response in forums, 3. tests poorly designed/not matching the lectures content - or worse, tests with mistakes
far's picture
To me google drive, padlet or other collaboriative tools for writing is better than a PDF (but thats just me of course)
My worse experiences, where the course content is available, but no learner support and no communication with the peers.
Maria1 and far, i hear you. These are problems that also occur in classrooms...
as always different media have to be used for different purposes, but for MOOCs one have more to facilitate Mobile learning design and heutagogy principles for self determined learning Far too many MOOCs are build on e-learning/online courses
I like Padlet as well - more than just pdf - s, but for longer materials, pdf is not bad.
Breda's picture
So, creativing an athmosphere of listening to the participants, where content is co-created and dynamic, not fixed, predetermined and one-way seems to be ingredient for the next generation of MOOCs?
Sometimes I found attractive content, but very poor tests - as far as I see, course developer do not pay enough efforts to develop attractive and versatile tests, assignments.
Breda, for background documents and essays to read up on i agree. But i do dislike the format...
yes, creativity, interaction, and challenges activities. there are a lot of colaborative tools to produce, develop and communicate. is essencial in this new days.
Ebba, exactly! it limits the MOOS to a e-delivery method, which to me plays no role in the learning landscape i want to be part of creating.
yes, and for the interaction most moocs probably need some kind of teaching staff/team active in the forums as well. Maybe volunteers such as at Coursera.
far's picture
I have been involved in MOOCs since I took the ones from Downes and Siemens the so called cMOOCs, ost MOOCs today are more like xMOOCs and everything in between, and we also have all the other abbreviations in between. So most MOOCs today are offers from providers and Universities, and not always what learners needs or asking for
Why must a course on the internet so long as in presence? It is internet, so you have to shorten the MOOC in little pieces. For MOOCs you have to redesign every aspect of a course, the exam, the duration, the content, the motivation and your target group.
Yes, I can only agree with that. But what is an alternative? Sometimes I was reading also some good blog posts...
Breda's picture
On to the next challenge. We have already touched on this, but here comes: Why join a MOOC?
In a course of the University of San Diego on new energies (OUR FUTURE ENERGY) all the contents were recorded conferences and deepening reports, always with iterative trnascripcion of the text. There were no text books or references, For me it was poor . In the MOOCon sustainability i have commnted , they gave you free an excellent text book!! It allows you to go back to concepts whenever you like to explore it in depth.
interesting subject.
Side comment on different MOOCs, in the early stages two types were propsed: cMOOCs (C for “connectivist”, the educational theory that inspired them1) run on open source learning platforms and are led by academics as part of their university activity. Their pedagogical model is peer learning. xMOOCs are online versions of traditional learning formats (lecture, instruction, discussion etc.) on proprietary specialist software platforms owned by private enterprises. They feature contractual and commercial relationships between Universities who create content, and technology providers.
The you and motivation to learn, but for some to update skills and knowledge as well, and for some for recognition etc, there are many reasons
Graciela, thank you for sharing
we live in a world where make connections is knowledge, as well construction of our knowledge. the others... are essencial and are everywhere!
Can we agree there are as many reasons to join a mooc as there are participants?
learn or just explore a topic or get certificate
far's picture
@larjanko You join a MOOC because you want to update knowledge or want to embark on a new path of learning in an unknown subject
I join the MOOC to get different views on a topics <i'm interested in
Breda's picture
If so, how can we possibly address them all in a manner interesting to each?
@larjanko The interaction between participants and their weight as motivators of learning depends greatly on the design
should we think of the learners of our MOOC as individuals, or as a group?
I would say individuals
Breda's picture
Graciela, do you mean how inviting it is to add your input, or design as in technical solution, or as in formulation of questions, or as something else?
I think it's important to think of learners as both individuals and a group. We should consider the group dynamic - how different individuals work together to create a community.
individuals. the group will form if is that what the participants want., look for, and usually is.
Who agrees with Breda, who disagrees?
You can maybe group the individual interests into 3 main motives: serious learning, exploring, getting a certificate for your CV
far's picture
@larjanko We have to consider them both ways, because we are in a time of individuals in network, we must be able to make the individualities emerge so that the group is enriched multiculturally.
first of all as individuals, as each enter and sign up for different reasons, in case it should be and there are requirements for group and collaborative learning this has to be clearly stated
thank you Graciela, that is my thinking exactly.
Learners in a MOOC is a very heterogeneous group of individuals - we should offer a wide variety of options, learning path and tools - and they may select what fit to them.
In Finland we sometimes say collectively individual learning to describe this approach
so again it depends of the reason both why to signe up, but also the business model and rational for offer the course. It also depends if it is part of formal learning and or informal learning
There was a mention of assessments/tests earlier here. What is your thought on that? Do we need them? If so, how to construct them?
@larjanko Yes It is a name that provides a clear description of the concept, I think it is very appropriate
Assessment is here mentioned within the scope of motivating learners/scaring them away...
Thank you Graciela :-)
@larjanko have mentiones the importance of clear an also complex and multitask rubrics for assesment processes
yes, true.
again, if MOOCs are part of formal learning there can be needs for assignments, there can be needs also otherwise , but more important in case of assignments is about how for examples certificates earned by MOOCs can be recognized and validated
Most of my work is in non-formal adult education, where we do not do tests. They might scare some away. But they are also often useful, in my experience. Just have to be done in the right way.
I ask about testing also because i am thinking about how to create an open and dynamic atmoshpere in the MOOC. To me that learning atmospehere will often dictate if the MOOC is succesful or not
May I have a question? What do you think, is offering MOOCs an expectation for European universities? Why do we offer, or why don't we?
But what kind of "formal" education is MOOC in your country? In Slovenia, I don't think there are such MOOCS
Breda's picture
Two different answers: 1: the hooc-hype has died down somewhat since the top years of 2013-2014.
I believe that what has greatly deteriorated MOOCs in the United States universities is the commercial fact of the "purchase of the certificate", which does not guarantee anything and less ensures no evaluation of comptencias. The affinity groups should be encouraged and the courses important for the different groups should be free of charge and with voluntary certification in person by region.
2: there are an increasing number of MOOCs offered. And so yes, there is still an expectation to offer them
To comment on Graciela: I think we have not seen the perfect MOOCs yet, we have seen some success and some failures, and now we see a rising trend of golddiggers trying to cash in on MOOCs.
I saw statistic on MOOCs in Europe ve US the other week, and MOOCs in Europe are very much increasing and more or less the same numbers than in US, but also that European MOOCs are different than the ones in the States, as most education is already free in Europe
But here i think quality will prevail. We are forced to improve MOOCs if they are to survive, and this also comes down to how we understand learning, and knowledge. (another good topis for a livechat btw)
Ebba, yes, this is true. Though there are loads of free MOOCs still coming out of the states.
I agree, Ebba. And in Europe, we do not always use "MOOC" as a general term for open courses.
look at that, we are down to the last 10 min of this chat.
While i feel we didn't manage to get much deeper into the discussion on motivation, i will try out the last bit i had in mind.
It's very interesting for me, as I haven't think about this
Breda's picture
Yes indeed this is very important Larkanko how we understand learning, and knowledge, and how to valid and recognize it, again as I argued in the beginning we cant threat MOOCs in the same way as we have done and still are measuring so called ord education, MOOCs is different and also the entire areas of opening up education. And also most MOOC doen even any longer are build on OER
@larjanko Of course, I believe that it is possible to make an active, participative MOOC design that takes advantage of diversity, open in the application of contents and in the articulation of new, but very consistent in the theoretical and conceptual framework of both its pedagogy and its Thematic contents
The move away from OER (open educational resources) is a sad one, and a trend that must be broken!
Graciela, that is the kind of MOOC i want to build too!
I fully agree, I prefer using OER in a versatile way in all forms of education.
I want a mooc that pushes the comfort zone of the learner, but with a good intent. I want it to be flexible with time, use multimedia and interactive tools, and i want it to be done in small manageable modules.
Yes indeed, it is vary strange in many way that OERs have come in the shadow of MOOCs, but now there are regional consultations for the World conf on OERS five years after the Paris declaration. The one in Europe was last week in Malta, and the World conf will take place in Sept in Slovenia, Ljubliana
The 1 hour mark is coming up, time to wind up this lively chat. final comments?
@larjanko In agreement with you, Larijanko, we must return to the articulated OERs in excellent designs enriched by multicultural participation.
@151 and you want everything to be free ;) how will that work...?
far's picture
far, of course that is a huge challenge. but if wikipedia can do it, so can we!
far's picture
thank all of you! this room was truly filled with some MOOC experts today!!
Thank you very much. It was interesting
Breda's picture
@far With respect to payments, they should be subsidized by the telecommunications companies themselves that are enriched by the banal use that some, even presidents, are making of social networks, would be their payment for being stupid to the population
The way i see it, the work has only just begun...
Thanks for your time and ideas - shall we access this discussion after closing the session?
yes, this will stay as a resource for all afterwards.
thanks. was very interesting.
Hello everyone, Check out the @OpenEduEU twitter feed, where I have been sharing some of the most interesting comments:
you can all contact me via this website if you have ideas/suggestion for further work
Breda's picture
@MaryClareOC Dear colleagues, it would be good to have the transcription distributed, thank you for participating !!
Don't forget to join us for next month's chat. We'll be joined by Bart Rienties from the Open University who will be telling us about how the OU is leading the way with learning analytics!
This discussion will remain in the community area so you can access this any time. Thanks again for joining!