MIT Team Studies MOOCs for Engagement

Researchers at MIT’s Computer and Science Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) analyzed data on the second-by-second viewing habits of EdX learners. The following were factors that weighed heavily on the success or failure of online learning platforms:

  • brevity (viewers tune out after six minutes)
  • informality (professors seated at a desk, not standing behind a podium)
  • lively visuals (rather than static PowerPoint slides)
  • fast talkers (the most engaging professors spoke 254 words a minute)
  • BUT more pauses (so viewers can soak in complex diagrams)
  • web-optimized lessons (existing videos retroactively broken into shorter chunks are less effective than ones created with online audiences in mind)

Arm with these findings, Juho Kim, a Ph.D. candidate in the User Interface Design Group at MIT CSAIL, is working to develop a better learning platform called LectureScape. In what he describes as “YouTube for MOOCs” Kim’s platform aims to present “educational videos in a more lively and dynamic way.” Features for the platform will include the following:

  •  a timeline shows which parts other users have most frequently watched
  • an interactive transcript lets users enter keywords to find relevant segments
  •  a mechanism automatically creates word clouds and summaries of individual sections, as well as the whole presentation
  • content from popular slides automatically appears in the following slide, as users will likely want to refer back to that information

The tool will be free for everyone to use as Kim believes keeping it free will increase the chances of attracting as many online learners as possible.

For full story, see Forbes.

Yvonne Chan

Yvonne Chan

Yvonne is a writer for Edtech Times who is most interested in technology's role in culture. When she is not combing the web for the latest in educational technology, she is reading classic literature or watching the game on TV. You may know her from Gradeable,, Emerson College, Busa Wine & Spirits, UMass Dartmouth, or Burlington High School.