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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Data-Mining of MOOCs Has Begun

Experts can debate the effectiveness of massive open online courses (MOOCs), but there’s no question about the amount of student information provided to register for the class. Now, colleges and universities are starting to work with technology vendors on ways to capture that data to use for marketing and recruitment.

“Showcasing the institution to capture prospective students is a rising reason [for offering MOOCs],” Katie Blot, president of the education services division at Blackboard, told University Business magazine. “There are more people talking about doing it than actually doing it.”

Institutions see MOOCs as a way to interact with students and spotlight the quality of their online classes. That leads to the question of whether to offer the courses for credit, with many only giving credit when the participant enrolls in a paid program, according to Blot. Administrators are also looking at the MOOC data to find out what assignments and discussions students participate in, when students stop participating, and why they stop.

“As long as MOOC courses are still dabbling in the credit process, accrediting bodies don’t feel the need to get into the mix,” said Rick Tomlinson, manager of academic solutions for Jenzabar, a provider of software and services for higher ed. “But I think that will change significantly once this whole process becomes more disruptive and we get into that credit-bearing mode.”

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