Posts tagged paper

Social Presence in MOOCs

This article is published in the international journal IRRODL Vol 19, No 3 (2018).


The capacity to foster interpersonal interactions in massive open online courses (MOOCs) has frequently been contested, particularly when learner interactions are limited to MOOC forums. The establishment of social presence—a perceived sense of somebody being present and “real”—is among the strategies to tackle the challenges of online learning and could be applied in MOOCs. Thus far, social presence in MOOCs has been under-researched. Studies that previously examined social presence in MOOCs did not account for the peculiar nature of open online learning. In contrast to the existing work, this study seeks to understand how learners perceive social presence, and the different nuances of social presence in diverse MOOC populations. In particular, we compare perceptions of social presence across the groups of learners with different patterns of forum participation in three edX MOOCs. The findings reveal substantial differences in how learners with varying forum activity perceive social presence. Perceptions of social presence also differed in courses with the varying volume of forum interaction and duration. Finally, learners with sustained forum activity generally reported higher social presence scores that included low affectivity and strong group cohesion perceptions. With this in mind, this study is significant because of the insights into brings to the current body of knowledge around social presence in MOOCs. The study’s findings also raise questions about the effectiveness of transferring existing socio-constructivist constructs into the MOOC contexts.


social presence, MOOCs, forum participation


Poquet, O., Kovanović, V., de Vries, P., Hennis, T., Joksimović, S., Gašević, D., & Dawson, S. (2018). Social Presence in Massive Open Online Courses. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distributed Learning, 19(3). doi:


Beyond the MOOC platform: gaining insights about learners from the social web

Paper presented at the 8th ACM Conference on Web Science in Hanover, Germany.


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have enabled millions of learners across the globe to increase their levels of expertise in a wide variety of subjects. Research efforts surrounding MOOCs are typically focused on improving the learning experience, as the current retention rates (less than 7% of registered learners complete a MOOC) show a large gap between vision and reality in MOOC learning.

Current data-driven approaches to MOOC adaptations rely on data traces learners generate within a MOOC platform such as edX or Coursera. As a MOOC typically lasts between five and eight weeks and with many MOOC learners being rather passive consumers of the learning material, this exclusive use of MOOC platform data traces limits the insights that can be gained from them.

The Social Web potentially offers a rich source of data to supplement the MOOC platform data traces, as many learners are also likely to be active on one or more Social Web platforms. In this work, we present a first exploratory analysis of the Social Web platforms MOOC learners are active on — we consider more than 320,000 learners that registered for 18 MOOCs on the edX platform and explore their user profiles and activities on StackExchange, GitHub, Twitter and LinkedIn.


Guanliang Chen, Dan Davis, Jun Lin, Claudia Hauff, and Geert-Jan Houben. 2016. Beyond the MOOC platform: gaining insights about learners from the social web. In Proceedings of the 8th ACM Conference on Web Science (WebSci ’16). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 15-24. DOI=


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THEMA Hoger Onderwijs 2014: Achter de schermen van moocs


De TU Delft is dit academisch jaar (2013/14) begonnen met het aanbieden van massive open online courses (moocs) via edX; een open source leerplatform ontwikkeld door MIT en Harvard, waarvan intussen de TU, maar ook Stanford en een veertigtal andere universiteiten wereldwijd gebruik maken. Dit artikel gaat over de vraag wat een mooc is, waarom de TU deze aanbiedt, wat voor inspanningen het kost om zo’n mooc te maken en welke ervaringen zijn opgedaan. Voor een deel komt die kennis uit de analyse van de grote hoeveelheid data, die de vele gebruikers van zo’n mooc genereren, in dit geval twee TU-moocs, die in november 2013 zijn afgerond. Er is veel discussie en beweging rond open onderwijs en de uitkomst is nog moeilijk te voorspellen. In deze situatie is het devies van de TU ‘Learn and lead’.


Pieter de Vries, Joost Groot Kormelink, Thieme Hennis. Achter de schermen van moocs in THEMA Hoger Onderwijs 2014, nummer 1: MOOCs in het Hoger Onderwijs.


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