Differences in forum communication of residents and visitors in MOOCS

Oleksandra Poquet, Jelena Jovanovic, Shane Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Facilitation of social interactions in Massive Open Online Courses can benefit from conceptualizing forum sub-populations through a networked lens. Such a lens implies that forum interactions represent a network of learners with heterogeneous levels of commitment to forum activity. A networked lens helps capture forum communities, so-called forum residents, as well as the rest of the crowd, also known as forum visitors. The current study empirically demonstrates the differences between these forum sub-populations. Building on a large dataset of manually labelled discussion threads in four edX MOOCs, our findings uncover two distinct patterns in the communication of posters with different length of forum commitment. As the courses progressed, all types of communication decreased for forum visitors, but both socio-cognitive and informational queries increased for forum residents. We find that the communication dynamics of committed forum posters cannot be observed when the entire forum population is examined in its entirety. Further, the study profiles learners around discussion type sequences. We show that communication topics of forum visitors appear narrow and topical when compared to the diversity of topics by resident posters. This paper offers a foundation towards the scaling of social teaching practices for personalised learning of both residents and visitors as well as community development in massive open online courses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103937
JournalComputers and Education
StatePublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication
  • Learner profiles
  • Massive open online courses
  • Networked learning
  • Online forums


Dive into the research topics of 'Differences in forum communication of residents and visitors in MOOCS'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this