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Data, Data Everywhere

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Artist's conception of the datasphere.

MOOC Research Initiative researchers spent significant time and resources on converting data from 22 projects pertaining to massive open online courses into a usable format.

Credit: Jac Depczyk

The MOOC Research Initiative on Monday released the results of 22 projects pertaining to massive open online courses (MOOCs), with participants noting the challenges of working with MOOC data.

The researchers devoted significant time and resources to converting MOOC data into a usable format. "We spent about 80 to 90 percent of our time on fundamental data transformation," says California State University System Office of the Chancellor academic technology and analytics program manager John Whitmer. He says MOOCs should improve data collection practices and be invested in the researchers' efforts.

Problems with data prevented University of Pennsylvania researchers from submitting a manuscript of their research, says project leader Laura W. Perna. For example, the team could see when students accessed a lecture or took a quiz, but had to match that data to what actually took place in the course.

The University of Pennsylvania project found only about one in every 10 students made it to the final week in the school's 16 Coursera courses in the 2012-13 academic year. Perna says she wanted to provide foundational research to support the prevailing beliefs about MOOCs.

Some research results challenged existing perceptions about MOOCs, with Whitmer's project, for example, showing answers to an entry survey about demographics and persistence were not statistically significant in terms of predicting student engagement in a course.

From Inside Higher Ed
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