Fostering Peer Connections to Make MOOCs Personal

December 08, 2015
The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation
By Educator Innovator

It takes more than just engaging content to have a successful MOOC. Through an inquiry-based process, our partner The Friday Institute discovered that offering multiple ways for participants to connect during the MOOC led to more positive outcomes.

“The success of the course hinges on meaningful peer connections. Participants found that the opportunity to share challenges and receive actionable recommendations from peers helped them to better support their students, but some participants indicated that they wanted opportunities to engage with their colleagues beyond discussion forums. As a result, the course team created two additional opportunities for participants to develop and foster a learning community: Voxer and virtual professional learning communities (VPLCs).

Voxer allows teachers to communicate using text and voice messages that stream live. Voxer participants can ask questions, reflect, problem solve, and share knowledge about the course in the group feed. One benefit of Voxer is that it allows participants to deepen their learning in an anytime, anywhere context. They receive instantaneous feedback in a learning community where they grow to know each other.

VPLCs are virtual meetings using Google Hangouts. Using the guides provided in the course, VPLCs provide opportunities for larger groups of teachers to discuss the impact of changes in practice based on what they learned in the MOOC-Ed; to discover what other peers found was effective, what was not, and why; and to share questions, concerns, and affirmations about their experiences. VPLCs allow participants from around the world to differentiate their learning experience and engage in a real-time conversation. When combined with the self-directed, anytime, anywhere learning facilitated in the MOOC-Ed, the experience proved to be powerful.”

By Lauren Acree

Interested in finding out more? Read the full article at The Friday Institute.

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