MOOC Visual Analytics: Empowering Teachers, Students, Researchers, and Developers of Massively Open Online Courses
Massively open online courses (MOOCs) offer instructors the opportunity to reach students in orders of magnitude greater than they could in traditional classroom settings, while offering students access to free or inexpensive courses taught by world-class educators. However, MOOCs provide major challenges to teachers (keeping track of thousands of students and supporting their learning progress), students (keeping track of course materials and effectively interacting with teachers and fellow students), researchers (understanding how students interact with materials and each other), and MOOC platform developers (supporting effective course design and delivery in a scalable way).
Along with these challenges, the sheer volume of data available from MOOCs provides unprecedented opportunities to study how learning takes place in online courses. This paper explores the use of data analysis and visualization as a means to empower teachers, students, researchers, and platform developers by making large volumes of data easy to understand. First, we introduce the insight needs of these four user groups. Second, we review existing MOOC visual analytics studies. Third, we present a framework for MOOC data types and data analyses to support different types of insight needs. Fourth, we present exemplary data visualizations that make data accessible and empower teachers, students, developers, and researchers with novel insights. The outlook discusses future MOOC opportunities and challenges.