Patterns of Engagement in Connectivist MOOCs

Milligan, C., Littlejohn, A., & Margaryan, A. (2013). Patterns of Engagement in Connectivist MOOCs. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching9(2). Retrieved from

29 survey respondents

Paper notes a relative dearth of studies due to the novelty of the field, and a lack of empirical data. – “This has led to the emergence of a rather unusual research base where a small amount of empirical research, published in niche journals and peer reviewed conferences, is supplemented by a large body of more anecdotal and reflective research published outside the traditional peer-reviewed journal system. ”

It notes Fini’s study (2009) suggests that a centralised tool – a daily newsletter was well received, but other tools were less so (eg Moodle sicussion forums). Digital literacy and English were identified as key skills.( Kop. 2011), makes a similar srgument, key literacy strategies must be in place in order to make learning likely.

“Active participants recognized that full participation entailed more than merely broadcasting ideas (creating tweets and blog posts) and had developed strategies to encourage connection with other participants through commenting on other blogs.”

“The largest category of engagement identified in this analysis was of lurkers (13 of 29). These participants were actively following the course but did not activelyengage with other learners within it. ”

Lurkers identified value in the course, in gathering resources that were contextialised, or organised,, some decribing it as “hugely beneficial”.

4 were “inactive within the course, but actively shared ideas from the course externally” – i.e. they used non course media (eg Facebook) to share ideas.

“Finally, a group of five participants (all of whom self-identified as lurkers) silently participated in internal networks but did not contribute to the course in any way. Their behavior appears to be motivated by lack of confidence” Lack of confidence here is a key aspect and feed in for my research. Some underconfident lurkers felt thay hadn;t the expertise to add to the conversation, some felt they were using this as a step to further engagem,ent in later MOOCs. Some noted that their engagement leveles and learning correlated – “These silent lurkers saw a connection between level of participation and their success as learners, as exemplified by this quote from one participant: “I would have felt I accomplished more if I had personally networked and participated more” ”

Fini, A. (2009). The technological dimension of a massive open online course: The case of the CCK08 course tools. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(5). Retrieved from

Kop, R. (2011). The challenges to connectivist learning on open online networks: Learning experiences during a massive open online course. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning,12(3), 19-38. Retrieved from

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