In this final part of Section III: Results, a summary of the method and volume of communication that occurred among participants in the MoM course is presented. For illustrative purposes, analytics are performed on two of the five communication channels: Video lectures and Video assignments. Findings of the qualitative analysis presented in Part III of this Section will aid in the interpretation of the analysis in Part IV.
The aim is to offer some insight into participant behaviour relative to posting comments.
Table 5. MoM Course: Volume and Type of Communication
As can be observed from Table 5, the most common form of communication as measured by volume of comments was through video lectures. Participants could create discussion topics and submit responses to discussion topics in a space located below the video lecture embedded in the mooKIT interface. The volume of postings was also high for video assignments and forums.
For illustrative purposes some descriptive statistical analyses were performed on postings for video lectures and video assignments.
In total, 38 video lectures were recorded and utilized to deliver content to participants in the MoM course. Video Lectures were divided evenly into two groupings: Lectures 1-19 and Lectures 20-38. Values were assigned to Video lectures based on the sequence of course content (e.g., the introductory course video was categorized as Video lecture 1). Table 6 provides a synopsis of the volume of interaction as measured by participants’ postings.
Table 6: Analytics of Individual Lecture Comments
Video lectures 1-19, which were aligned to Weeks 1-3, generated 228 topics and 1220 comments, or about 5.4 comments per topic. By contrast, video lectures 20-38, which were aligned to Weeks 3-5, generated 167 topics and 508 comments, or about 3.0 comments per topic. Additionally, there were topics created by learners which generated zero comments. In Video Lectures 1-19, 21 of the 228 topics generated zero comments as compared to Video Lectures 20-38, where 42 of the 167 topics generated zero comments. This data serves to show that the volume of comments for Video lectures declined as the course progressed. Analysis will follow later in this Section.
A similar method and calculation were carried out on volume of comments directed to Video assignment submissions, which were described previously in the subsection on Course expectations and certification.
Video assignment submissions were divided evenly into two groupings: Video assignment submissions 1-55, published between September 27 and October 8, and Video assignment submissions 56-111, published between October 8 and October 12. Video assignment submissions were assigned values based on the order of submission (e.g., the first Video assignment submission was assigned the value “1”).
From Table 7 it can be gleaned that Video assignment submissions 1-55 generated a higher number of comments than the latter grouping of Video assignment submissions. There were about 8.5 comments per assignment for assignments 1-55, as compared to about 2.7 comments per assignment for assignments 56-111.
Table 7: Analytics of Video Assignment Comments
The initial conclusion to be drawn from the analysis of comments posted to Video lectures and to Video assignments is that as the course progressed, interest waned in posting comments through either channel.
Yet, the pattern of postings, relative to the date of posting, do not support this conclusion.
The volume of postings for Video lectures began to taper off during Week 3. At the beginning of Week 4, postings for Video assignments commenced and increased steadily. A week and a half later, or by the halfway point of Week 5 (Oct. 8), the volume of postings for Video assignments started to drop. Postings for Video lectures continued to decline during this time. If the assumption is that interest waned as the course progressed, then why was there an increase in postings for Video assignments after there was a decrease in postings for Video lectures?
Several interpretations are offered to explain this unusual seesaw of activity by participants.
The steady decline of postings to Video lectures may be explained in regards to perceptions or content of the Video lectures. In the analysis in Part III of Section III: Results, survey participants noted the redundancy of some Video lectures. Some also grew critical of the delivery of content characterized by an instructor speaking into the camera for the bulk of a Video lecture. This may explain the link in the decline in postings for Video lectures. Another possibility is the quality or content of the postings to Video lectures made by other participants. The analysis in Part III revealed that some survey participants were dissatisfied with the quality of postings. Further, some postings that started new discussion threads received zero comments. This may have acted as a means of discouragement for the ‘owner’ of the post, or as a deterrent for others to submit a posting. It is hard to contest that individuals sense (if not seek) validation when there is a response (or other activity) to their ideas. A final interpretation to the decline in postings to Video lectures is that participants may have diverted time from reading or submitting postings towards time needed to complete the assignment that was assigned during Week 3.
Interestingly, the observed decline in postings to Video lectures was followed by an upstart to postings for Video assignments. Video assignment submissions uploaded to the course website began on September 27, one day after the assignment was announced (and the conclusion of Week 3). A surge in postings to Video assignment submissions followed as more Video assignments were uploaded to the course website. The novelty of seeing other participants share their knowledge in a video may have acted as a jolt to re-engage with submitting postings. Part of this activity is likely linked to participants gathering ideas for their own Video assignments by viewing early submissions. A cursory review of the some of the postings to Video assignments revealed that the content was short and often complimentary to the participant who submitted a particular video. In this sense, investing time to submit a posting may have been less time intensive than submitting a posting to a Video lecture. Another possibility to the surge in postings is that Video assignments engaged another group (or type) of participants to submit postings. These individuals may have been previously lurking only to start to submit postings at a later time in the course. The fact that postings to Video assignments eventually started to decline may have been a result of participants busily finishing their own Video assignments. 55 Video assignments were submitted in the final five days of the course.
In the broader picture, this unusual activity should serve as some encouragement to the designers and instructors of the MoM course. If students are jolted by a novel addition to the course, this may act as incentive to continue active engagement among participants in a MOOC. It may also serve to sustain participation over the duration of the course.
As important, this analysis opens up several pathways to pursue in further implementation of the MoM course, or others like it. What are the analytics around particular Video lectures? What do textual analyses of comments reveal relative to satisfaction, feedback, or learning among participants? How effective are changes to a course once it has begun? Are participants motivated by certain kinds of interactions with other participants such as Video interaction?
The intent of this analysis has been to illustrate some patterns of behavior that may reflect participation or interest on the part of participants in the MoM. These analyses may also be worthy of consideration for future research work into the behaviour of learners on MOOCs or other online courses.