By Dhawal Shah
The first ever MOOC I took had 160,000 people signed up for it.
The forums were buzzing with activity. New posts were being added every few minutes. If I had any question at all, it had already been asked and answered by someone else.
But recently I have noticed forum activity and interactions in MOOCs have declined drastically.
This is despite the MOOC user base doubling in 2015. The total number of students who signed up for at least one course had crossed 35 million — up from an estimated 16–18 million in 2014 — according to data collected Class Central, where I work.
Change of pace
The first MOOCs were essentially college courses put online — they were approximately 10 weeks long and had weekly or bi-weekly assignment deadlines with a final exam. Like a college course, they followed a semester pattern and were offered once or twice a year.
But as course providers learned more about student behavior in online courses, MOOCs have evolved to meet the needs of the student. These needs include shorter courses with soft deadlines (i.e making it possible to submit assignments anytime before the end of the course, rather than having weekly hard deadlines).
Kadenze, a MOOC platform optimized for arts education, made such a switch recently. After the switch, the platform got more submissions in one month than in the whole of 2015 (Kadenze launched in mid June 2015), according to CEO Ajay Kapur.
But the biggest change to MOOCs in recent times has been that they have become more available. In other words, the number of courses that users can start immediately has risen significantly, as you can see in the graph below. (The graph shows the number of courses that a learner could start in September of each year. I chose September because it’s usually the biggest month for MOOCs.)
[ Full article available at VentureBeat: http://venturebeat.com/2016/09/05/moocs-no-longer-massive-still-attract-millions/ ]