Measuring Success in MOOCs (or More Specifically, DALMOOC)

I was asked last week how we knew whether or not DALMOOC was successful. Seems a fair question since “success” in MOOCs seems to be measured by everything from completion rates to enrollment numbers to certificate numbers to alignment of the stars on the Wednesday of the first week the MOOC is offered. I had to be honest about that question and say that since everyone that work on DALMOOC lived and are still on speaking terms (at least as far as I know), then we were successful. Running a MOOC can be far more intensive and stressful than many people realize. We almost didn’t make it out the other side with everyone still happy.

In some ways, when I see people saying that we were blending xMOOCs and cMOOCs, or combining the two, I think we might have failed in the communication of what we were doing. Maybe I can blame that somewhat on our current educational system that only thinks in linear ways; therefore any course with more than one layer is not scene as complex, but “blended” or “combined.” Words like “straddled” seem closer, but to be honest we didn’t feel the need to straddle. We just had two layers that were not walled in, allowing learners to choose one or the other or both or to move back and forth as they felt. Infinite possibilities. A Multiverse Open Online Course maybe even. But not really a linear mix of the two from the design side.

Of course, the learner experience was linear even if they skipping back and forth between both layers. So maybe when the participants use words like “blended” or “straddled” or “combined,” those statements in themselves are actually signs of success. In the beginning, some claimed that DALMOOC was more cMOOC than xMOOC, but by the end others were claiming it was more xMOOC than cMOOC. Maybe all of these various, different views of the course are proof that the original design intention of truly self-determined learning was realized. At the very least, DALMOOC feedback was an interesting study in how bias and ontologies and epistemologies and all those -ologies affect participant perception of design. Maybe it doesn’t matter than participants can’t articulate the basics of dual layer architecture because the point all along should have been to hide the architecture and let learners learn how to learn.

So, at the end of the day, I will be able to come up with some philosophical jargon to “prove” that DALMOOC was a success to the powers-that-be who ask – all of which will be true. But to be honest, the only thing I really want to do is shrug my shoulders and say “beats me – go look the participant output itself and see if that looks like success to you.”

Looks like success to me.

Matt Crosslin
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

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