Most massive open online courses (MOOCs) use video lectures to teach students. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have found that’s just not enough.
In the report Learning Is Not a Spectator Sport: Doing Is Better than Watching for Learning From a MOOC, researchers looked at results of two groups of students taking an introductory psychology MOOC given by a pair of professors from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. One group took the course as a traditional MOOC, spending most of their time watching lecture videos. The other group combined videos with interactive materials from the CMU Open Learning Initiative.
After 11 weekly quizzes and the final exam, the MOOC-only students scored an average of 57% on the final exam, while those in the combined course scored an average of 66%. The researchers found students may think they understand a concept after hearing a lecture or reading a text, but often have no way to confirm if they comprehend it correctly.
“When one is watching a lecture or reading material, there’s an illusion of learning,” Ken Koedinger, author of the report, told The Chronicle of Higher Education. “Lessons communicated in a lecture don’t stick.”
According to Koedinger, MOOC platform providers should be doing more than quick follow-up questions at the end of a lecture. He said MOOCs need to focus more on interactive exercises that address misconceptions students may have about the material rather than more videos.
“Some of these students are coming into these courses thinking they’re going to learn from this fabulous lecture, but it really isn’t sticking,” he said.