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Designing for Invisible Learners in MOOCs
Christian Dalsgaard, Per Falkeborg, Tom Gislev
Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark. University College Absalon, Sorø, Denmark.
MOOCs, invisible learners, open education, learning communities, design
The objective of the paper is to discuss how to design MOOCs that accommodate invisible learners. The term “invisible learners” is used to describe the passive, dropouts, non-completing and disengaged students of MOOCs. The hypothesis of the paper is that these kinds of MOOC participants learn something from their participation, even though, MOOCs are not designed with their use patterns in mind. The paper is based on an empirical study of an open online course designed specifically for different types of learner engagement by allowing for different levels of participation. The study is primarily based on 11 interviews and a questionnaire answered by 51 participants. Based on the findings of the study, the paper discusses and questions the MOOC format as a relevant educational format for the “massive” group of non-completing or “invisible students”. The findings from the current empirical study show that some of the participants were from the outset not interested in completing a course or doing assignments and that they have different aims and interests than the ones intended by the course. The study identified five patterns of participation: 1) Students (enrolled), 2) Attendees, 3) Members, 4) Observers, 5) Visitors. The paper presents the goals and needs for learning of these different participants. The paper concludes in a discussion of how to design educational formats that accommodate the different patterns of participation.
Full Paper - .pdf
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