【Research Plan】Facilitation for Learning Community in Large-scale Online Learning Environment: a case study on Studying at Japanese Universities (M2 ZHOU Qiaochu)

Hi everyone! This is Qiaochu. Glad to write the first blog for this new semester. Right now, I am diving into the data analysis of my research and preparing for the thesis writing. As professor said, 70 % of the workloads may have been done but the last 30% is another challenge to go. This is quite right and therefore I need to optimize my time and schedule for the writing process.

You may have already noticed that finally I adjusted the research theme to "facilitation". Focusing on this, case study on one MOOC is adopted to explore facilitation in MOOC's online learning environment. And this time I will briefly introduce my research methods and progress of the research, with some preliminary analysis we got so far.

So, the MOOC of "Studying at Japanese Universities" by the University of Tokyo on Coursera will be researched as an information-oriented course. Being a representative case embodying the role of facilitation in MOOC learning context, "Studying at Japanese Universities" also features the particularity as an informative course, with over 10000 global online learners. With high rating (4.7/5) on Cousera, data accessibility, and active interaction, this course is worth researching for MOOCs' development in the long run.

Mixed methods of combining qualitative and quantitative research are adopted while the whole study is qualitatively emphasized. The research is of exploratory design when quantitative research follows qualitative part. The detailed process is attached below. Till now, interviews with facilitators of the MOOC and survey regarding facilitation in this MOOC for enrolled online learners have been finished. The next step is doing interpretation based on both the qualitative and quantitative research.

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The MOOC survey to enrolled online learners was conducted in March. With every respondent's kind help, we got 64 responses in around two weeks. Basically, we see online learners express positive feedback towards facilitation from TAs in the MOOC. While on the other hand, the problem of insufficient interaction and the gap between "silent" learner and super-active learner also remain as a distinct problem. In the meantime, the diversity of MOOC online learners and their differed needs also add difficulty to online facilitation.

Quantitative analysis can be a tricky task. While it may be "convenient" to extract conclusions from the data, variables need careful observation for comprehensive analysis. Right now, I am looking into open questions we gathered from learners for more hints.

Finally, hope everyone's having a good start in the great season and I shall also try my best for the thesis. See you next time!