The changing patterns of MOOC discourse

Nia M.M. Dowell, Christopher Brooks, Vitomir Kovanovic, Srećko Joksimovic, Dragan Gaševic

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


There is an emerging trend in higher education for the adoption of massive open online courses (MOOCs). However, despite this interest in learning at scale, there has been limited work investigating how MOOC participants have changed over time. In this study, we explore the temporal changes in MOOC learners' language and discourse characteristics. In particular, we demonstrate that there is a clear trend within a course for language in discussion forums to be of both more on-Topic and reflective of deep learning in subsequent offerings of a course. We measure this in two ways, and demonstrate this trend through several repeated analyses of different courses in different domains. While not all courses show an increase beyond statistical significance, the majority do, providing evidence that MOOC learner populations are changing as the educational phenomena matures.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationL@S 2017
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 4th (2017) ACM Conference on Learning @ Scale
EditorsJustin Reich, Candace Thille
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9781450344500
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventAnnual ACM Conference on Learning at Scale 2017 - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, United States of America
Duration: 20 Apr 201721 Apr 2017
Conference number: 4th


ConferenceAnnual ACM Conference on Learning at Scale 2017
Abbreviated titleL@S 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
Internet address


  • Discourse complexity
  • Discussion forums
  • Learning at scale
  • MOOCs
  • On-Topic discussion

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