Factors affecting choice of access to content in a Learn Moodle MOOC and their effect on MOOC completion rates

Abstract

This study considers the reasons for, and subsequent consequences of MOOC participants choosing to see content "All at once" or released weekly "Step by step". It aims to identify the types of MOOC participant most likely to choose selective release over seeing the materials all at once, and studies whether one path or another is more likely to lead to successful completion of the MOOC.

The MOOC in question is the twice-yearly Learn Moodle Basics MOOC which regularly attracts over 3000 participants and which in recent years has offered participants when signing up the choice of how to access the course content.

It is envisaged that the report will be useful to educators and researchers interested in MOOC motivation and completion rates in general and to instructional designers considering how best to present their materials.  As the MOOC focuses on how to teach with Moodle, the report should also be of interest to researchers exploring how the Moodle platform can be suited to MOOC delivery.

The study involved taking the completion data from three recent Learn Moodle Basics MOOCs and analysing the results to identify which cohort ("All at once" or "Step by step") had higher results in terms of completion, partial completion and non-completion - if indeed there was a  significant difference. An earlier study along similar lines (Mullaney, T and Reich, J 2013) suggested there is no significant difference. We test the findings against the earlier study and, additionally,  explore the reasons behind participants' choice of path through the course. The most recent MOOC also included a participant survey asking why one path was preferred over the other. The results of this survey also form part of the study.

The findings reveal that there is no appreciable difference between the completion and non-completion rates of participants in both groups. An alternative certificate,  a "Certificate of Achievement," is awarded for partipants who complete all but one specific activity, and while again, no significant difference was noted in how many from both cohorts, it was observed that far fewer participants in both cohorts obtained this. It could be implied that, realising they would not obtain a Certificate of completion, participants were far less motivated to continue with the remaining activities.

The results from the participant survey again unsurprisingly reveal that experienced Moodlers and those having previously done the MOOC are more likely to select the  All at Once path whereas those who wish to 'chunk' their learning into 'manageable' sections are more likely to select the Step by Step path. However, there is no appreciable difference in confidence or competence in English.

The study recommends  continuing to offer both options of content release in further MOOCs.  It also recommends working together with the authors of a recent study of Learn Moodle MOOCs (Monllau Olivé D et al, 2019) to explore in greater depth indicators of success and failure in both groups by enabling the Learning Analytics feature on the Learn Moodle site.