Hasso Plattner Institut (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN14 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 6667-6677
ISBN: 978-84-617-0557-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 7-9 July, 2014
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Particularly in the context of education and e-learning, the topics social interaction and collaboration have been a little strained during the recent decades. xMOOCs have often been criticized, particularly by members of the cMOOC community, that they lack sophisticated options for user interaction. The team that is developing and running the openHPI (x)MOOC platform, in general, approves these statements. To improve this situation, a major reasearch effort has been started to explore the different aspects of social interaction amongst course participants. The range of the examined options includes importing existing friend connections from social networks such as Facebook or Google+, adding social network features within the openHPI platform, but also collaboration features such as learning rooms and group exercises.

The paper at hand focuses on the evaluation of a survey conducted amongst the users of the openHPI platform. 774 of these registered users have spent about fifteen minutes of their time to complete this task and shared their opinion with us. Even assumed that the participants of such surveys recruit themselves from the more active part of the users, the collected socio-demographic data show that the survey's participants represent a characteristic profile of our audience.

The following questions have been of special interest to us:
- How do the learners actually prefer to learn--on their own or in groups.
- How active are our users on existing social networks, would they be interested in an integration of their data from these sources.
- How connected are our learners, do they know other participants in real life or through other virtual channels.
- How has our main channel of social user interaction--the forum--been employed by our users.
- Which social interaction features, if any, do our users really miss?

Furthermore, we investigated if users would appreciate a system of alumni-mentors, and even more important: to which rate would they be willing to spent time in order to serve as mentors themselves in future iterations of our courses. Particularly, in the context of learning groups, a great potential concerning the scalability of individual assistance is anticipated in providing such a system.

The survey contained both quantitive an qualitive questions, the paper at hand explores both types in detail.
MOOC, Collaboration, Social interaction, Mentoring.