Teaching Assistants in MOOCs forums: Omnipresent Interlocutors or Knowledge Facilitators

[c238] Ntourmas, A., Avouris, N., Daskalaki, S., & Dimitriadis, Y. A. (2019, September). Teaching Assistants in MOOCs forums: Omnipresent Interlocutors or Knowledge Facilitators. to appear in ECTEL 2019 (Delft, Netherlands)


Α major issue that concerns course instructors of massive open online courses (MOOCs) is the low retention ratio of learners. One of the key factors of this problem is the lack of support and interactivity in MOOC discussion forums. The support provided to learners in MOOC forums is critical to retain their motivation. Teaching assistants (TAs) play a crucial role in providing support to learners within the discussion forums, so an interesting research subject is to study the approaches they follow. In this study, we investigate the TAs' instructional approaches through a mixed-methods approach. This has been performed on two MOOCs delivered through the OpenEdX platform. The goal was to assess the main characteristics of their interventions by using an evaluation framework derived from social constructivism theory and to capture the main issues of their approaches. The results of this study reveal that TAs did not promote problem-centered learning and collaboration, and they acted more as ‘omniscient interlocutors’ rather than as facilitators. Thus, these issues should be addressed, through either a guided learning design process by the instructors, and support to the TAs, regarding their intervention strategy in forums.


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Hci Group | Electrical and Computer Engineering | University of Patras