Learners’ Discussion Patterns, Perceptions, and Preferences in a Chinese Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

  • Fan Ouyang Zhejiang University
  • Xu Li Zhejiang University
  • Dan Sun Zhejiang University
  • Pengcheng Jiao Zhejiang University
  • Jiajia Yao Zhejiang University
Keywords: MOOCs, knowledge inquiry and construction, mixed methods, discussion patterns, learning analytics tools


The development of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has proceeded through three generations, and in all three, online discussions have been considered a critical component. Although discussions in MOOCs have the potential to promote learning, instructors have faced challenges facilitating learners’ knowledge inquiry, construction, and management through social interaction. In addition, understanding various aspects of learning calls for more mixed-method studies to provide both quantitative, generalized analysis and qualitative, detailed descriptions of learning. This study fills these practice and research gaps. We designed a Chinese MOOC with the support of a pedagogical strategy, a learning analytic tool, and a social learning environment in order to foster learner engagement in discussions. Mixed methods were used to explore learners’ discussion patterns, perceptions, and preferences. Results indicated that learners demonstrated varied patterns, perceptions, and preferences, which implies a complex learning process due to the interplay of multiple factors. Based on the results, this research provided theoretical, pedagogical, and analytical implications for MOOC design, practice, and research.

Author Biographies

Fan Ouyang, Zhejiang University

Fan Ouyang, Ph.D., Research Professor, College of Education, Zhejiang University. Dr. Ouyang’s research interests include computer-supported collaborative learning, learning analytics, and artificial intelligence in education. Contact Email: fanouyang@zju.edu.cn

Xu Li, Zhejiang University

Xu Li, Doctoral student, College of Computer Science and Technology, Zhejiang University.

Dan Sun, Zhejiang University

Dan Sun, Doctoral student, College of Education, Zhejiang University.

Pengcheng Jiao, Zhejiang University

Pengcheng Jiao, Ph.D., Research Professor, Ocean College, Zhejiang University. Dr. Jiao’s research interests include structural health monitoring, smart underwater robotics, and artificial intelligence in education.

Jiajia Yao, Zhejiang University

Jiajia Yao, Ph.D. candidate, College of Education, Zhejiang University.

How to Cite
Ouyang, F., Li, X., Sun, D., Jiao, P., & Yao, J. (2020). Learners’ Discussion Patterns, Perceptions, and Preferences in a Chinese Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 21(3), 264-284. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v21i3.4771
Research Articles