Monday, 17 June 2013

ScHARR MOOC Diaries - Part XIII: Build it and they will come

Build it and they will come...

So, we designed some MOOCs and we marketed them as best we could without the marketing might of platforms such as Coursera. And they did indeed come. But who exactly were 'they'?

Today the first of the ScHARR MOOCs, the Sustainable Healthy Diets MOOC launched and we thought it was about time that we shared some information about who has actually signed for this exciting new journey!

How many?

First of all, numbers. How many did we recruit? Well, approximately 1400 people registered an interest in the Sustainable Healthy Diets MOOC. Of these (at the time of launch this morning) approximately 1000 had fully registered for the course (using the coursesites platform). The discrepancy between these numbers could be due to a number of reasons including:
  • an inability to complete the registration process (technical problems perhaps?)
  • a change of mind (some participants did contact us to say they would like to drop out or defer due to holidays and so on)
  • there is a possibility that the invitations they received were lost (emails can sometimes be marked as spam and removed from users' inboxes)

The fact is without actually surveying people we will never be able to accurately account for this loss of numbers.

When did they sign up?

So, for those that did successfully register, who signed up and when?

The graph below gives an indication of when people were signing up. Notice that there were definitely more signups as the course start date grew nearer. For the Sustainable Healthy Diets course we were averaging 50+ signups per day towards the end.
Signups from Feb - June 2013

Where are they coming from?

After signing up, participants (or MOOCsters as they've affectionately become known within the ScHARR MOOCs team!) were asked to complete an optional online survey gathering some basic demographic data. We received 584 responses for the Sustainable Healthy Diets MOOC.

We asked for:
  • Which continent are you from?
  • Which country are you form?
  • Age?
  • Gender?
  • How did you hear about us?
  • Why did you enrol on this course?

Interestingly. among other things, the results showed a distinct and unexpected gender divide. This may be a reflection of interest in this particular area?
Male: 144, Female:440
We also found that we had managed to recruit from over 61 countries worldwide

Participants 'attending' from over 61 countries
In terms of age, the participants were predominantly young. Could this be related to the fact that this course is online and younger 'digital natives' may be attracted to (or less hesitant about) this mode of delivery?
Spread of ages

How can we keep them?

We know from existing data that MOOCs by their very nature can suffer from a low participation and high drop-out rate. One of our main objectives is to keep participants interested and engaged the whole way through the 5 week course. We're using a range of participative teaching methods to foster and nurture online collaboration and networking. Our weekly live sessions aim to provide participants with unique opportunities to interact with the tutors, subject experts and each other. So whether or not we can keep them, time will tell!

Luke Miller

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