Autorin: Dr. phil. Ana Isabel Ortega Martin,
Gutachtende: Prof. Dr. Hans-Ulrich Grunder (Universität Basel), Prof. Dr. Patrick Bühler (PH FHNW)
Projektdauer: 2015-2021

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are increasingly becoming the preferred choice of students in higher education. These courses allow people to enhance or restart their professional careers. What is more, the situation we have all lived through in 2020 has habituated us to observing social distancing. As a consequence, MOOCs have become even more necessary and enrolments have grown exponentially. Universities and institutions focus their teaching and learning strategies on strengthening their online educational offerings, and improving online learning environments has become crucial.

This study was conceptualised in a bid to enhance online learning environment of MOOCs as this has a direct impact on student participation. I chose to evaluate how student participation changes during the learning experience. Research questions were adjusted as a result of the constant changes in the area of online education, and the new needs and limitations that emerged during the study process. Thus, the following five specific objectives were set.

  1. To analyse MOOCs in order to define design outlines.
  2. To identify and define which processes and procedures are the most suitable in the design phase of MOOCs to encourage student participation.
  3. To collect, identify and define the tools necessary for the creation and the update of MOOCs that promote student participation.
  4. To identify the factors that best encourage student engagement.
  5. To analyse the role of student participation in the design of a MOOC curriculum.

The main aim of the project was to design a methodological outline that provides instructors with a useful tool that allows them to design MOOCs with the most effective learning environments in order to foster student participation.

The scientific research methodology chosen for the project was a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods. The project was developed according to a descriptive research method and document analysis of publications targeted at MOOC design. In the quantitative research approach, I analysed the data statistically, using the instrument designed specifically for this study (the CAT50 index). This is an index that measures the percentage of students who completed more than 50% of the assigned tasks in a MOOC.

Therefore, the process of drawing conclusions was focused on exerting a positive effect on student participation. I obtained three types of results:

  1. Those related to prevalent factors occurring in current MOOCs, such as, MOOC’s instructional design process (design phase) must be included in instructors’/supervisors’ workload time.
  2. Those related to co-design. The main results revealed that, in good practices, students were involved in MOOC creation in the following ways: course design, content creation and technical scoping of interactive assets; and students participated actively according to a seventh rung of Arnstein’s ladder (1969: 216).
  3. And those related to factors with a positive impact on student engagement. These included, such as, for example: course length fewer than 40 hours or around seven to eight weeks in duration, at most; and MOOCs offering peer-assessment activities.