Best of Ireland: A curious case of persistent learners: insight into serial MOOC participation
Abstract: Why do learners join MOOCs? This is a straightforward question which underpins many MOOC studies. It also leads to two related but distinct questions: firstly, who are MOOC learners? Secondly, what are their goals and motivations in undertaking a MOOC (e.g Wang and Baker, 2018, Kizilcec and Schneider, 2015, Ferguson and Clow, 2015)? This research has been built on the reasonable assumption that understanding learner participation, and what kind of patterns may be implicit in learner continuation, are key, given the frequently sharp drop out of participation observed in MOOCs (Jordan, 2015). This study will report on a survey placed in 5 MOOC courses ran in succession, from the wider Irish 101-108 series of courses on FutureLearn, teaching both the Irish language and aspects of Irish culture to ab-initio learners. The instrument measured a range of social and psychological variables, yet this paper’s concern is a simple question: whether the participants came to the course following the directly-preceding course, or whether they were ‘new’ learners that were joining for the first time? Data from this core instrument is supported by contextual, qualitative data on why learners continued and the effects their participation had on this continuation. Implications for MOOC design, particularly amongst suites of courses, are presented, as well as future research directions and how this research can be extended.