Marti Hearst- Towards Collaborative Learning At Scale

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have emerged as a new and provocative approach to education. MOOCs as initially deployed incorporate an innovative learning technique, at least compared to the standard computer science in-person classroom, consisting of sequences of very short lecture segments followed by student learning activities. The education literature shows strong support for the pedagogical value of pausing to check student comprehension after short presentations of material, as the MOOC active learning exercises do. The literature also shows, though, that the effects are even stronger if students engage with the material in small groups before progressing to the next set of material. These benefits can include improving critical thinking skills, retention of learned information, interest in subject matter, and class morale. This practice is variously known as peer learning, collaborative learning, and cooperative learning, and has been studied both in the classroom and online in the field of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning. However, it has never been studied at scale. At the same time, MOOCs are not set up for real-time collaboration. In our research, we are putting the two ideas together, and are working towards the goal of improving retention and learning in MOOCs. This talk will discuss early-stage research into the incorporation of collaborative learning at scale, with the goal of incorporating it into MOOCs. Joint work with Bjoern Hartmann, Armando Fox, Derrick Coetzee, and Taek Lim