By: Alexandra Urban, Teaching & Learning Specialist
Last week at Arizona State University, we gathered together with our partners from around the world at the 2018 Coursera Partners Conference. The conference is a rare opportunity to gather together in person and discuss how we can continue to transform lives through learning. As the leader of our Data Track breakout sessions, I was especially excited to connect with our partners on their research, and to discuss how we can collaborate using Coursera’s newest data tools. Here are the main themes that emerged during our Data Track discussions:
#1 Leveraging Research from Our Community:
One of the best parts of Data Track is hearing about what our inventive partners are doing. It’s also exciting to see other partners brainstorm about how they can implement similar strategies back at their home institution. Research insights from one school’s MOOCs can be applied more broadly, such as analysis from Joy Lu at the University of Pennsylvania on how encouraging “binge learning” can lead to learners moving further through courses. In another example, Dmitry Abbakumov from the Higher School of Economics showed us how assessment best practices can ensure effective proficiency measurements.
For partners interested in exploring our Data Exports, Paige Cunningham from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Illinois introduced her guides and code to help organize the data. Overwhelmed by all those rows of data in your spreadsheet? Use Tableau dashboards of Coursera data to benefit from insights developed by Duke University’s Quentin Ruiz-Esparza. Curious how lots of data points and research can be turned into a quality rubric? Look to Jessica Morris and her team from the University of Pennsylvania for their evaluation of MOOCs for informed iteration.
#2: Accessing New Data in More Places:
At this year’s conference, we announced Coursera’s latest efforts to expose data to partners. Our brand new data dashboards include the long-anticipated course progress funnel, which visualizes learner progression and highlights points of ease and challenge in your content.
Furthermore, learners can now see more data on Coursera! When you enter coursera.org and start browsing for the right course, you can search by specific skills and even broader topics, such as “p-value” or “confidence.” This takes us beyond mere text matching to a user behavior-driven search experience. Once you’ve enrolled in a course, you now see pop-up messages that describe other learners’ behavior to you to provide a light nudge that improves your experience.
#3: Opening Learning Analytics to Everyone:
Our most exciting development this year: you don’t have to be a SQL expert or have a PhD to gain insights from the data on our platform. Maria Janelli from the American Museum of Natural History explained how she went from an idea and no programming background to designing and running a fully-randomized experiment with Coursera. Justin Johnsen from Duke University discussed how Coursera enables you to investigate hypotheses through A/B testing. This method is nearly impossible to apply to traditional on-campus learning.
Hilde Segers from the Eindhoven University of Technology inspired the audience with her message of action and inclusion. She explained that the most important step is getting started— you can always iterate and improve later, but you can’t reach your research goals before you get going! Even if you don’t want to conduct your own experiments, curated data are already available to instructors, course team members, and administrators. To quote Segers: “We heard in the keynote that they are expanding the course dashboards, so the lowest hanging fruit just got a lot sweeter.”
These highlights are just a sample of the exciting discussions we had in Arizona. I look forward to many more in the coming year!