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From Phil Hill: Emerging Student Patterns in MOOCs

From Phil Hill:

Emerging Student Patterns in MOOCs: A (Revised) Graphical View

No-Shows – These students appear to be the largest group of those registering for an Coursera-style MOOC, where people register but never login to the course while it is active.

Observers – These students login and may read content or browse discussions, but do not take any form of assessment beyond pop-up quizzes embedded in videos.

Drop-Ins – These are students who perform some activity (watch videos, browse or participate in discussion forum) for a select topic within the course, but do not attempt to complete the entire course. Some of these students are focused participants who use MOOCs informally to find content that help them meet course goals elsewhere.

Passive Participants – These are students who view a course as content to consume. They may watch videos, take quizzes, read discuss forums, but generally do not engage with the assignments.

Active Participants – These are the students who fully intend to participate in the MOOC and take part in discussion forums, the majority of assignments and all quizzes & assessments.”


Some validation of MOOC student patterns graphic

Posted on August 30, 2013 by 

“In previous posts from spring 2013 I provided a graphical view on MOOC student patterns based on observed retention over time as well as differing student types. This graphic was based on anecdotal observations of multiple MOOCs, mostly through Coursera.



Based on a recent study of the edX Circuits and Electronics MOOC, there is this interesting chart of student patterns based on actual data analysis of the 155k students from the spring 2012 offering of this course. The full report is worth reading, by the way, with some real student pattern insights.

edX Retention


I took this chart and overlaid it on the MOOC student patterns graphic, scaling for 0% / 100% of enrollment vertically and start / stop of course horizontally.

Combined MOOC patterns


It’s good to see this validation of the overall retention pattern based on real data analysis to augment the original graphic’s model.”



Posted on: September 20, 2013, 7:15 am Category: Uncategorized

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