Looking at the Data: First Two Days of #moocmooc

First, take a look at a snapshot of the data and graph for Sunday, the first day of #moocmooc.

Sunday Pic

Then the Monday data.

Monday Pic

You can also see the two days together.

Sunday and Monday

The first thing to notice is that both days display a very clear power law. This is not surprising, as power laws are expected in group phenomena. The power laws for the two days is nearly identical, and it will be interesting to see if that continues as the course goes on. We had only 90% of the participation in Monday compared to Sunday, and just 76% of the tweets. This bears out a tweet by isharacomix

tweet euphoria

It’s also interesting how the “board leaders” changed. You can see there was lots of mobility, people who didn’t tweet much on Sunday moving up the board. See the snapshot below. The users in pink moved up, those in green moved down, and those in white stayed put, and those at the end in blue & white didn’t participate on Monday. (I shrunk this up, if you want to see the spreadsheet, just leave a comment or tweet to @faroop).I’m a good example of the mobility, being at rank 45/156 on Sunday and 5/141 on Monday. For me, this reflects in part my participation on a weekend day when my primary obligation is to family, versus my participation during a work day. My participation is down today because I spent much of the day traveling from Boston to San Diego!

changes sun to mon

A big conversation has been going on amongst a bunch of people twitter about how to include more people in a MOOC. Can we change the power law at all so that it doesn’t drop off as fast? I’m going to try to storify it once I’ve caught my breath, but I feel like the data isn’t going to point us to a solution because we don’t know who everyone really is. What characteristics do the board leaders have in common? What about those with one or two tweets? If we want to know how to reach people we have to know something about them. So there has to be another way. I am particularly interested in the inclusion of those who may not feel like they have a place at the table, people who are disenfranchised for whatever reason. But, again, this data isn’t going to tell me who is missing. We can’t see who is not at the table if we don’t even have data on who is at the table.

Any thoughts? Ideas?


14 thoughts on “Looking at the Data: First Two Days of #moocmooc

  1. @pwikgrimm says:

    Absolutely. Here is input from one of the “board leaders”. The whole Twitter chat seemed meaningless and confusing. So I attempted to engage around that issue — why are we doing this? What is going on?

    My primary interest in MOOCs is the 90% we never hear from, who never show up in places like this chat, who lurk and don’t complete. I want to explore THAT group. So this engagement for me was part of trying to understand this phenomenon.

    What I came away with from that chat was that it was confusing, hard to follow and hard to understand. There was no clear purpose for it and a lot of random content that I had no interest in. It felt like a waste of time.

    I tried engaging Jessie in a dialogue about that outside of the chat — how modalities affect participation because they just don’t work for a lot of people. That more context in HOW to engage with the modality would help. His basic answer was that it was just an attitude problem on my part and that if I would take responsibility for my own learning and be willing to go with the flow, it would all work out. Otherwise, I could just leave. This sort of “you just have to do it” response came from everyone else in the chat, who were clearly comfortable with the chaos. No one actually “heard” that there are people for whom this simply does not work. And that that is an important consideration when designing MOOCs.

    I do continue to believe that the chaos that some people seem to think is inherent to successful MOOC learning is a real barrier for engagement. It’s why you won’t see me in any more Twitter chats. I am now in lurk mode for this course. I have joined the 90%.

    So the difference for me from day one to day two is a lack of resolution of the underlying issue — I can’t make sense of what is going on, it is frustrating and without value for me. And the course leader seemed completely and offensively oblivious to that situation. So, as Jessie suggested, I walked away. THAT is what I would like to address. How can we make the MOOC style of learning work for a greater number of learners? And have fewer people walk away because the MOOC designers only set up what works for them?

    Just one personal reflection.

    • Dr Johan du Toit says:

      I think ultimately that “massive” in MOOC (unless it is meant for straight-forward content delivery) will ultimately morph to “manageable” or “meaningful” or “mediated”…

      I found the opening sessions in #moocmooc to be rather hectic (not necessarily a problem) and reminiscent of folks staking out prime claims in knowledge-land (a problem?). This felt to me as though certain folks were soliciting for the best ‘connections’ & ‘visibility’ (like handing out business cards – by the bushel – at a conference). The froth of ferment was a little too much for me…

      Real connectedness – I believe – requires some (large?) degree of openness between participants; I think the #moocmooc hectic-ness leads to the mindset for a major segment of “Be careful – noisy info-markets can be the frustration of a novice, knowledge maker”.

      Are we seeking volume (as in loudness) and/or good signal:noise ratio (audio quality)?

    • Big Q Ethics (@TheBigQethics) says:

      I think a MOOC has to have a sense of its audience. We’re designing a MOOC now on business ethics, assuming many of our participants will be businesspeople. The chaotic nature of the MOOC MOOC, while bracing in its way, is just not going to appeal to this audience.

      Also, I suspect there is a generational problem in terms of people’s comfort with various technologies. I remember when I was in high school, and my father brought home our first automatic record player. It seemed so much easier to me, but my mother absolutely refused to use it. I laughed at her at the time, but now that I am in my sixties, I see that the ability/willingness to master new technologies starts to wane, even though my job requires me to keep up. “You just have to do it” is not a viable pedagogical approach to people who are having trouble with the technologies.

      And finally (call me a dinosaur), when I take a class, it’s because I don’t know enough about the subject. That makes me, de facto, unlikely to provide anyone else with a lot of illumination. As I’ve read through many of the products from the class exercises (this blog post being a welcome exception), they may reflect the students’ feelings about such matters as “where learning takes place,” but I don’t see them as building knowledge that I did not previously have–which, to me, is what it means to learn.

      • Angela Vierling-Claassen says:

        Really interesting points. We need lots of different kinds of educational experiences for different people, different subjects, different experiences. So we have to have a big tent, and there really can’t be one “right way.”

        Would you say, then that education and learning is something to be provided (from instructor to student), something to be developed (by all), or somewhere in between. I guess I’m somewhere in between. We sometimes have to do all kinds of modes, and the trick is doing the right one at the right time.

  2. Angela Vierling-Claassen says:

    Damn, I just wrote a big long reply that dissappeared. In short, thanks for the in-depth comment. I think we have to go beyond being haphazard and that we need lots of styles of teaching and learning. Who will MOOCs serve? Can we push them to serve more kinds of people? Can we push them to serve where there is greatest need? How to do that? I’m reminded of this piece I found maybe last week: Who Are MOOCs Most Likely to Help? (perhaps not those who really need help) http://ow.ly/go6Jh

    • @pwikgrimm says:

      Yes, good article and right on the money. How on earth would someone for whom English is a second language keep up in a Twitter chat? Or someone who reads more slowly? The modality de facto excludes part of the cohort. What percent, I wonder?

  3. Bernard Bull says:

    I think it is valuable to consider the design as well. Sunday largely focused upon getting to know one another through Twitter and an introductory discussion. After the first day, many of us started to generate additional collaboration spaces (YouTube, Google+, Google Hangouts, Google Docs, comments on individual’s blogs, IRCchat, etc.) Monday was devoted to reading, a collective essay, and a Tweetup for those who could make it. Then today involved more reading and video creation. It was be great to explore the discourse across all of these platforms.

  4. @pwikgrimm says:

    Angela, it would be cool to see this same data from the rest of the Twitter chats this week. If you don’t have time, point me to where you got the data and I can run the analysis.

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