MOOCs: Tutor or Facilitator?

Written by Viktorija Florjančič, EMUNI team

During my PhD study I carried out some research about the tutor’s role in an online course. Based on literature review I became aware of high dropout reported in different research studies (more in Sulčič 2010, 187). As as result I would like to investigate what needs to be done for an online (or blended) course to be successful. This is especially important in an environment where the institution is financed base on the students’ success. I found out that an active tutor role is really very important. Only well-trained tutors are able to improve study outcomes (Sulčič & Sulčič  2007).  In the last two years the MOOCs become a phenomenon of online delivery method of learning content. Courses that based on connectivity pedagogy have to deal with a really large number of students. Tutoring in the traditional way is almost impossible. Therefore some kind of facilitating is required for implementing a MOOC.  The facilitators are usually not expected to teach the content as they may not be equipped to do it (Irvin). We ask- is the facilitator role comparable to the tutor role?

We are in the middle our evaluation of the  2nd pilot  with a huge enrolment  registered, and our main question is about the success of the course. It is well known that in  MOOC’s dropout – only 5–10% participants accomplished the MOOC. However, some authors emphasise that metrics used in traditional courses cannot be simply applied to MOOCs.

What about our pilot? As reported, badges, as a recognition tool for the completion of the course activities were introduced in the MOOC. Students who successfully finish all weekly activities received a weekly badge (see Table 1). The course finished on June 21st but it is still open and the students are still able to complete it if they wish. Based on the Moodle statistics there were 734 participants in the student’s role registered in the MOOC. Most of them (79.7%) still have not received any of badge and only 8.5% of them have been rewarded by all badges (Table 1).

Screenshot 2014-07-11 11.26.35

The next interesting data analysis drawn from Moodle statistics relate to the participants activity in the course forums. We collected data from the beginning – even before the course had started and continued till week later (until June 29th). Facilitators that were enrolled in a teacher role and students contributed different posts (self-presentations, questions, explanations, reflections, comments, regardings, etc)  in forums. As it can be see from the Figure 1 from week to week the number of post decreased – in the both groups. And what is important for the 3rd pilot – more the teachers (facilitators) posts also decreased, but the highest declined is found in the students post (–35.89 vs –91.93).

Screenshot 2014-07-11 11.23.00

The evaluation is still in progress but from the first sight it could be stated that a teacher/facilitator or a tutor role in MOOC is not insignificant, and that it should taken into consideration if we would like to offer a successful model of MOOC.


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