There have been plenty of studies about massive open online courses (MOOCs), but not as much is known about those taking the courses. A group of researchers from around the world are interviewing people who have completed a MOOC, asking them to describe their experiences and activities while working through the course.
The researchers interviewed around 70 individuals and discovered that successful online learners possess sophisticated study skills. They also found that the flexibility MOOCs provide is essential and that online learning is an emotional experience for the learners.
“Anxiety, appreciation, embarrassment, and pleasure are some of the emotions that learners used to describe their experience in these courses to us,” George Veletsianos, associate professor at Royal Roads University, Victoria, BC, Canada, wrote in a blog post for Inside Higher Education.
Some learners talked about note-taking strategies and how their use of external resources helped them gain a greater understanding of the topics being taught. A large number said their flexible lifestyle gave them the time to explore more topics of interest.
“By getting to know these invisible learners, we think we can build a better foundation for online learning, the design of digital learning experiences, and the use of technology in education,” Veletsianos wrote. “It is already clear from our initial interviews that in order to create more egalitarian structures for education, we need to start peeling away the multitude of barriers that prevent the most vulnerable populations from participating.”