MSc Summer Project Poster

CanYouTell_PotraitA1FINALMy MSc Dissertation Poster/Tim O’Riordan ©2014/Creative Commons by-nc-nd License.

In my last post (several months ago) I set out a loose plan for my summer dissertation project. Now the dissertation has been submitted and I’ve produced this poster to sum up it’s 14,000 words – or at least its key points. It had it’s first outings at the Barry Wellman Distinguished Lecture event last week, and at the Institute for Learning, Innovation and Development (ILiAD) Conference, and a Public Engagement and Outreach Workshop earlier this week – all of which were held at the University of Southampton.

What are my key findings?

Essentially, after analysing comments associated with learning objects on a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in an attempt to identify ‘attention to learning’, I discovered that the coding model I applied to comments was good at identifying where there was not much learning activity going on, and slightly less impressive at identifying attention to learning. While there is a lot of work to do on this area, results so far have been encouraging, and I’m looking at how the usefulness (or otherwise) of my approach can be tested further.

Why is this important?

Making education and training more widely available is vital for human development and the Web has a significant part to play in delivering these opportunities. Running a successful online learning programme (e.g. a MOOC) should involve managing a great deal of learner interaction – answering questions, making suggestions, and generally guiding learners along their paths. But coping effectively with high levels of engagement is time intensive and involves the attention of highly qualified (and expensive) teachers and educational technologists. My hope is that through my research an automated means of showing how well and to what extend learners are attending to learning can be developed that will make a useful contribution to managing online teaching and learning.

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