End Week Summary 6 – How to establish effective MOOCs?

While finishing the search on possible MOOCs, it became obvious that in many MOOCs – intended or non intended is no proper interaction amongst participants and therefore a lack of community building/ a missing online learners community.

But is it important to build an online community amongst learners? Following discussion on twitter with @Eva07686348, @erin11k and @DavidYeats3 it is certainly ok to accept different learning styles and types.

But still we are in the century of intensive digital communication and interaction. As a trainers or course designer my general interest is to create as much interaction as possible by all means necessary.


A livid learners community is helpful for learning and active interaction with course content, even though I have to accept that there are different types of learners.


 Instructors should strive to use strategies that provide the best match between curriculum content and outcomes as well as students’ past experiences, learning styles, and learning preferences. (Jason Alley and Karen Greenhaus (2007, page 21)

The web is full on strategies on how to improve your instructional design, improve interaction, turn lurkers into contributers.

Based on the assumption that for most participant even a generally low interaction with others is helpful, course designers should have the interest to know who is observing, learning and participating in “silence” and who is just enrolled without interest in achieving course objectives.

How could I find out? As course designer and can follow to some extend the behaviour of enrolled students but still how to distinguish? Yes, I could check the number of enrolled students, check who takes part in discussions and finally monitor, those who do the set assignments (if there are).

So even if I can’t distinguish them at least I should be able to motivate as many participants as possible and ‘lure’ them into participation in by design of the course as it was very well described by Jason Alley and Karen Greenhaus

The strategy on how to bring as much participants to discuss and engage is very much connected to the general question on how to build relationships and communities without having the face to face interaction.

I came across some articles on how to transfer human face to face interactions into digital communication and engagement.

I will further explore these scenarios in my micro – ethnography.



Jason Alley and Karen Greenhaus (2007): Turning Lurkers into Learners, ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education),

https://vimeo.com/13192810TeYosh (2016): Turking learners into . 




End Week Summary 5 – The endless search for a functional MOOC

Is there a community in a MOOC and what is it like? Is there still a community without interaction. Without any doubt there is a potential in digital education through MOOCs. For university education as described by Rebecca Paddick  on edtechnology or as a possibility for the poor, the marginalized or those living in remote areas.

“Massive Open Online Courses, otherwise known as MOOCs, could have the potential to widen global access to higher education, particularly where higher education is currently in short supply” Diana Laurillard and Eileen Kennedy, 2017) 

Other sources highlight that even though there is a potential, there are not many making use of the potential or the way how the respective MOOCs are presented do not reach the intended target group, aren’t attractive and/or interactive or don’t develop a community as we see it in other social media platforms, blogs, etc. An interesting article  by Derek Newton in Forbes online highlights the current situation of reletively low course completition rates. 

In week 6 I enrolled myself in 4 tech or ed-tech courses.

In search for the community in these MOOCs, most results of online discussions show no content.

Even though only taking part in the course actions for research, there is already the feeling of isolation and loneliness.

The important questions for distance and digital learning opportunities is to what extend online community building is relevant for successful courses. Personally I found a functioning, interactive MOOC – but not in a tech related subject. Maybe this is another relevant issue!



  • Derek Newton (2018). Not even teacher – bots will save massive open online courses. Forbes, published August 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/dereknewton/2018/08/22/not-even-teacher-bots-will-save-massive-open-online-courses/#7508ac2d2bb0
  • Diana Laurillard and Eileen Kennedy (2017). The potential of MOOCs  for learning at scale in the  Global South. Centre for Global Higher Education working paper series, published December 2017,  https://www.researchcghe.org/perch/resources/publications/wp31.pdf
  • Education Technology (2017). MOOCs’ massive potenial, published October 2017, https://edtechnology.co.uk/Article/moocs-massive-potential/



End Week Summary 4 – Technology, Culture, community and the search for a MOOC

It was about time start with the new area of community cultures. Technologies focussing on building online communities, connecting people, encourage interaction, share information, set up personal profiles have squeezed into the middle of our societies. The decade  “with a broader increase in the capacity for communication and interaction on the web”(Knox, 2015,page 4) entered and was considered by society positively “Rather than otherworldly or strange, here the online is warm, friendly and communal.”(ibid.

Witnessing the changes in society due to the huge amount of technology and a great openness to use this technology (hardware and software) there are some important questions relevant for effective digital education.

  • What is the (online) community and what makes you a part of it?
  • Do we need a community to learn?
  • If yes how to build a community?
  • How does the online community differ from the offline community?

These questions became relevant when searching for an appropriate MOOC.

  • While searching it was and is hard to tell in which of the great variety of courses consider real exchange and community building as relevant to their course design. Some running courses had very high enrollment numbers but when checking there was almost no interaction through formal channels set by the course designers.  May be the idea is not to set up a formal discussion boards but to let the students have side conversations and informal groups. It would be interesting to compare to course designs – on with and one without active community building elements.

Considering we need a community for learning, how to set it up?

I found this clip on how to build an online community. Though a but outdated, the aspects mentioned are still valid and crucial. Longevity, Trust, Shared Values, Community management. While doing the ethnography one major focus should be on the question to what extend we need a community to be an effective learner.



Knox, J 2015, Critical education and digital cultures. in M Peters (ed.), Encyclopedia of Educational
Philosophy and Theory. Springer, pp. 1-6. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-287-532-7_124-1

Wills, Marc (2013):The Online Community-A New Paradigm: Mark Wills at TEDxSanLuisObispo,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhOUNsATofU