From tutored to self-paced MOOCs: reflections and perspectives

Simona Ferrari, Serena Triacca

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in libroContributo a convegno


Literature highlights the existence of different pedagogical formats of MOOCs dealing with two broad categories: instructor-paced and self-paced. Generally, the former are characterized by a course path designed by the teacher, gradual release of contents, a set calendar and deadlines for learner completion of course components, fixed-schedule retention and work-load and tutor support. In self-paced MOOCs, students can proceed at their own pace not least because all the contents are available from the beginning. A common issue deals with the low retention value, reaching 5-10%; an increasing trend of studies on this topic among 2016-2021 lead to map the factors that affect retention, distinguishing them into external (motivation, perceived usefulness, social influence) and internal (covering content, perceived enjoyment, infrastructure). Ihantola et al. recognized a better overall retention rate (45%) in instructor-paced than its self-paced counterpart (13%). The other common feature is to require individual learners to be able to self-regulate their learning, determining when and how to engage. Course design factors influence learners’ self-directed learning and commitment above all in self-paced MOOCs. Since 2014 seven different MOOCs have been released by CREMIT and ILAB of Catholic University. In this contribution we will focus on three MOOCs shifted from “tutored” to “self-paced” modality over the years. The design of the tutored MOOCs changed specifically with respect to timing (contents release, duration), role of the tutor, suggested activities, discussion board orientation. The purpose of the exploratory study is to understand whether and what design elements of self-paced MOOCs need to be strengthened to ensure an effective learning experience. From the universe of reference (17 editions), the study focuses on a sample of 6 editions, 3 tutored and 3 self-paced, released in the last three years. A web-based survey, composed of 16 multiple-choice items organized in several areas (personal information, customer satisfaction, role acted in the course, perception of other participants), was made available to all subscribers. In the survey of self-paced MOOCs, a specific question was added to assess the perceived influence of some elements of the design on the learning process. Overall satisfaction between tutored and self-paced MOOCs maintains high average values. Values are also high with respect to several design elements. In this scenario four elements are unexpected in self-paced MOOCs, compared to tutored MOOCs: with respect to the average time spent consulting each module, a significant increase is evident in those spending more than 4 hours (18,22%, compared to 5% of MOOCs tutored); changes in self-perception as a participant by shifting toward more participatory behaviors (-8,59% “the silent”; +5,27% “the entrepreneurial”; +4,57% “the altruist”); a significant increase of involvement in a learning community (+12,67% reports feeling “fully involved”); openness of the MOOC seems to be not understood (“autonomy in using of the materials” is not a decisive factor for those who have completed the course -31,22%; “lack of time” is considered the main cause of non-completion +34,23%). In perspective, in the re-design process we will focus on supporting users to build awareness about the meaning of the attendance of a self-paced MOOC and on “educating for participation”, through delivering propaedeutic module (“module zero”), testing a chatbot to run an informative function, developing HTML-based contents and soft tutoring, in order to foster involvement through interactivity and feedback.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteHELMeTO 2023 - Book of Abstracts
Numero di pagine3
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2023
EventoHELMeTO 2023 5th International Conference on Higher Education Learning Methodologies and Technologies Online - Foggia
Durata: 13 set 202315 set 2023


ConvegnoHELMeTO 2023 5th International Conference on Higher Education Learning Methodologies and Technologies Online


  • MOOC
  • participation
  • design
  • self-paced


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