A Social Network Perspective on Peer Support Learning in MOOCs for Educators

A recent phenomenon in the MOOC space has been the development of courses tailored to educators serving in K-12 settings.

MOOCs, particularly as a form of educator professional development, face a number of challenges. Academics, as well as pundits from traditional and new media, have raised a number of concerns about MOOCs, including the lack of instructional and social supports. It is an assumption of this study that challenges arising form this problem of scale can be addressed by leveraging these massive numbers to develop robust online learning communities. This mixed-methods case study addresses critical gaps in the literature and issues of peer support in MOOCs through an examination of the characteristics, mechanisms, and outcomes of peer networks. Findings from this study demonstrate that even with technology as basic as a discussion forum, MOOCs can be leveraged to foster these networks and facilitate peer-supported learning. Although this study was limited to two unique cases along the wide spectrum of MOOCs, the methods applied provide other researchers with an approach for better understanding the dynamic process of peer supported learning in MOOCs.

Kellogg, S., Booth, S., & Oliver, K. M. (In Press). A social network perspective on peer support learning in MOOCs for Educators. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning.

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