Why We Watch: Lessons from MIT’s Study of MOOCs and Engagement

Why We Watch: Lessons from MIT’s Study of MOOCs and Engagement

MOOC MADNESS: Why do some MOOCs succeed in drawing a large and motivated viewership, while others can’t keep students watching for more than thirty seconds? Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab analyzed the viewing behavior of over 100,000 students in Fall 2012 to understand how video production affects engagement. The biggest takeaway: Keep it short. Student engagement, measured by how long a student watched each video and whether they attempted to answer post-video questions, dropped sharply at the six minute mark.

Researchers also found that high-quality filming doesn’t necessarily translate to high student engagement. Videos with a personal feel (filmed in an informal setting) and videos that were designed with the MOOC format in mind fared better than polished videos that simply chopped up a pre-recorded lecture.

The four courses, offered on the edX MOOC platform in Fall 2012, were Introduction to Computer Science and Programing, Solid State Chemistry, Statistics for Public Health and Artificial Intelligence.

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