DANCE: Discussion Affordances for Natural Collaborative Exchange

DANCE Talk: Avenues for underrepresented learners in MOOCs

DANCE Talk Series

Speakers: Amy Ogan, Carnegie Mellon University
Jessica Hammer, Carnegie Mellon University
Date: October 15, 11.00 EDT (view in your time zone)
Talk: Hangout on air
Video only (YouTube)


Although xMOOCs are not designed to directly engage students via social media platforms, some students in these courses are choosing to join MOOC-associated Facebook groups. We present our foundational work that suggests that learners from underrepresented groups may encounter challenges with connecting with anonymous peer learners on MOOC forums, and thus turn to other sources of support. Our subsequent study explores the prevalence of Facebook groups associated with courses from MITx and HarvardX, and investigates whether the geographic representation of MOOC-associated groups is different from that of courses at large, as well as the extent to which MOOC-associated Facebook groups are location and/or language homophilous. Results suggests that a non-trivial number of MOOC students are engaging in Facebook groups, with higher representation from learners of non-English speaking countries, and evidence of location and language homophily within these groups. These findings have implications for how MOOCs and social media platforms can better serve specific groups of learners and enable enriching personalized learning experiences.

Speaker Bios

Amy Ogan is an educational technologist focusing on ways to make learning experiences more engaging, efficacious, and enjoyable. Her research informs the design of next-generation educational technologies, supporting both social and cognitive aspects of learning. Her interests encompass several threads: engendering rapport and relationships with social technologies to aid learning, cultural issues in educational technologies, and supporting cross-discipline development of educational games. Individual projects typically cut across several threads, and include the development of new technologies as well as contributions to learning theory.

Jessica Hammer is an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, jointly appointed between the Human-Computer Interaction Institute and the Entertainment Technology Center. She studies how games can change the way people think, feel, and behave; she is particularly interested in ways that game design techniques can be adapted to support learning in a variety of contexts. Her other research interests include creativity, gender, mobile technology, and community design.