Pushing Toward a More Personalized MOOC: Exploring Instructor Selected Activities, Resources, and Technologies for MOOC Design and Implementation


  • Curtis J. Bonk Indiana University, USA
  • Meina Zhu University of West Florida, USA
  • Minkyoung Kim Yogyakarta State University, Indonesia
  • Shuya Xu
  • Najia Sabir Indiana University, USA
  • Annisa R Sari Indiana University, USA Yogyakarta State University, Indonesia




massive open online courses (MOOCs), personalization, instructional design, MOOC instructors


This study explores the activities, tools, and resources that instructors of massive open online courses (MOOCs) use to improve the personalization of their MOOCs. Following email interviews with 25 MOOC and open education leaders regarding MOOC personalization, a questionnaire was developed. This questionnaire was then completed by 152 MOOC instructors from around the world. While more than 8 in 10 respondents claimed heavy involvement in designing their MOOCs, only one-third placed extensive effort on meeting unique learner needs during course design, and even fewer respondents were concerned with personalization during course delivery. An array of instructional practices, technology tools, and content resources were leveraged by instructors to personalize MOOC-based learning environments. Aligning with previous research, the chief resources and tools employed in their MOOCs were discussion forums, video lectures, supplemental readings, and practice quizzes. In addition, self-monitoring and peer-based methods of learner feedback were more common than instructor monitoring and feedback. Some respondents mentioned the use of flexible deadlines, proposed alternatives to course assignments, and introduced multimedia elements, mobile applications, and guest speakers among the ways in which they attempted to personalize their massive courses. A majority of the respondents reported modest or high interest in learning new techniques to personalize their next MOOC offering.

Author Biography

Curtis J. Bonk, Indiana University, USA

Curt Bonk is Professor at Indiana University teaching psychology and technology courses and President of CourseShare. Drawing on his background as a corporate controller, CPA, educational psychologist, and instructional technologist, Bonk offers unique insights into the intersection of business, education, psychology, and technology in his blog, TravelinEdMan. He received the CyberStar Award from the Indiana Information Technology Association, the Most Outstanding Achievement Award from the U.S. Distance Learning Association, the Most Innovative Teaching in a Distance Education Program Award from the State of Indiana, and, in 2014, the Mildred B. and Charles A. Wedemeyer Award for Outstanding Practitioner in Distance Education. He has authored ten books, including The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education (2009), Empowering Online Learning: 100+ Activities for Reading, Reflecting, Displaying, and Doing (2008), The Handbook of Blended Learning (2006), and Electronic Collaborators (1998). His recent book, Adding Some TEC-VARIETY: 100+ Activities for Motivating and Retaining Learners Online (2014), is free at http://tec-variety.com/. And his latest book with Routledge, MOOCs and Open Education Around the World, as well as a special issue of the International Journal on E-Learning on the same topic came out in July 2015 (http://www.moocsbook.com/). See Bonk’s homepage for his archived talks: http://php.indiana.edu/~cjbonk/. Contact: cjbonk@indiana.edu.



How to Cite

Bonk, C. J., Zhu, M., Kim, M., Xu, S., Sabir, N., & Sari, A. R. (2018). Pushing Toward a More Personalized MOOC: Exploring Instructor Selected Activities, Resources, and Technologies for MOOC Design and Implementation. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 19(4). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v19i4.3439



Research Articles