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Changing "Course": Reconceptualizing Educational Variables for Massive Open Online Courses

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Educational Researcher Volume 43, Number 2, ISSN 0013-189X


In massive open online courses (MOOCs), low barriers to registration attract large numbers of students with diverse interests and backgrounds, and student use of course content is asynchronous and unconstrained. The authors argue that MOOC data are not only plentiful and different in kind but require reconceptualization--new educational variables or different interpretations of existing variables. The authors illustrate this by demonstrating the inadequacy or insufficiency of conventional interpretations of four variables for quantitative analysis and reporting: "enrollment," "participation," "curriculum," and "achievement." Drawing from 230 million clicks from 154,763 registrants for a prototypical MOOC offering in 2012, the authors present new approaches to describing and understanding user behavior in this emerging educational context.


DeBoer, J., Ho, A.D., Stump, G.S. & Breslow, L. (2014). Changing "Course": Reconceptualizing Educational Variables for Massive Open Online Courses. Educational Researcher, 43(2), 74-84. Retrieved October 14, 2019 from .

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