Investigating Instructor Intervention in MOOC Discussion Forums


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) scale up their class size by eliminating synchronous teaching and the need for students and instructors to be co-located. Yet, the very characteristics that enable scalability of  MOOCs also bring significant challenge to its teach.  In particular, high student-to-instructor ratio in MOOCs restricts instructors’ ability to facilitate student learning by intervening in discussions forums, as they do in face-to-face classrooms — the lack of interaction and feelings of isolation have been attributed as reasons for why enrolled students drop from MOOCs.

Using a large sample of forum data culled from Coursera MOOCs we design predictive models to identify discussion threads for the instructor to intervene. Such machine learning models may allow building of dashboards to automatically prompt instructors on when and how to intervene in discussion forums. In the longer term, it may be possible to automate these interventions relieving instructors of this effort. Such automated approaches are essential for allowing good pedagogical practices to scale in the context of MOOC discussion forums.

MOOC Wikification is a spinoff from this project with similar objectives.



Ragupathi, Kiruthika; Chandrasekaran, Muthu Kumar; Kan, Min-Yen; Tan, Bernard C Y

Investigating student learning in online discussion forums through a transactivity framework Conference

In Proceedings of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSoTL '17), 2017.


Chandrasekaran, Muthu Kumar; Epp, Carrie Demmans; Kan, Min-Yen; Litman, Diane

Using Discourse Signals for Robust Instructor Intervention Prediction Conference

Proceedings of the Thirty-First AAAI conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-17), 2017.

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Chandrasekaran, Muthu Kumar; Kan, Min-Yen; Tan, Bernard C Y; Ragupathi, Kiruthika

Learning instructor intervention from MOOC forums: Early Results and Issues Conference

Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Education Data Mining (EDM) 2015, 2015.

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Chandrasekaran, Muthu Kumar; Ragupathi, Kiruthika; Tan, Bernard C Y; Kan, Min-Yen

Towards feasible instructor intervention in MOOC discussion forums Conference

Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems (2015), 2015.

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Meeting Minutes

  • 2 Jun 2017