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Bola Owoade

Jewish Care

Senior Learning and Development Advisor

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Why I Think Social Learning Works (a bit) in MOOCs

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Just yesterday I wrote about a MOOC I am currently doing with Coursera on Data Science. Yes I know Data Science is not exactly the most exhilarating subject, but my curiosity about what it entails got the best of me, so I registered for the course. After completing one module from the course, the real learning experience for me has not been the contents of the module itself, but rather the prevalence of social learning blended into the course. Like most MOOCs it consists of video lectures and some form of assessment to test knowledge plus a forum that allows people taking the course to collaborate with each other. And it is that forum that has impressed me. Why? Because it works. People are actually using the forum to learn from each other. They are constantly asking and answering questions, presenting ideas and making suggestions, and that I suppose is a good thing.

For me the question then is, why does it work? I have worked out that, it is because the learning itself is voluntary, people voluntary registered to do the course of their own volition. They are motivated to learn something for themselves. they are not behind an organization telling them to learn it for a task at work or attending a paid school course which they feel they have to do. They simply opted to do it because they want to learn. And that is crucial, because people want to learn when they encounter problems they use the forum to ask questions and people who are already motivated to learn are happy giving answers and helping others because they themselves are enjoying the learning. Now this is not new, we know that people who are more self-motivated learn better. So my learning point is this: social learning is more likely to be successfully when people are self motivated about the learning not when they are told to do it.

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Bola Owoade

Senior Learning and Development Advisor

Read more from Bola Owoade
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