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

A project for the Edinburgh Napier MBOE on:

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

Literature review

Early engagement

Completion (however you calculate it) continues to be the benchmark of both participant and MOOC success, and Littlejohn and Hood (2018)  refer to findings by Jiang et al (2014) that a learner’s behaviour during the first week of the MOOC is indicative as to whether they will complete the MOOC or not. Analysing a four week Biology course, they noted that a “significant decrease in participation usually takes place by the second week of the course” They also point to peer assessment and assignment performance in week 1 being a strong predictor of final success.

Mullaney and Reich (2013) observed, when exploring 'ontrackedness' that 

"for each week, a every week of the course, a substantial portion of visitors engage with the very first contents of the course"

In terms of early engagement in a MOOC, it does suggest that the start of each week is key to engaging and retaining learners. The authors suggest it might be pertinent to have the first element of a course provide a résumé of the main ideas of the whole course rather than simply providing the week one materials.

 A positive start in the first week has also been observed as a sign the participant will go on to complete the Learn Moodle MOOC. During the 2013 MOOC a ‘Participant badge’ was offered from the launch, as a incentive to those who engage in forums.

 “A third (34%) of the 9,522 users completed the Track A of the course earning a participant badge…. high compared with MOOC persistence rates (Jordan, 2014). We speculate that the high participatory nature of the course activities may have helped contribute to this by keeping the learners engaged” (Cooch, Foster, Costello, 2014)

 The practice has continued in subsequent MOOCs. The percentage of those obtaining the participant badge, typically in the first week and then going on to complete the MOOC is consistently higher than the widely agreed 12.5% median, as outlined in publicly visible post-MOOC reflection posts. (Foster, 2017)