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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Communication at scale in a MOOC using predictive engagement analytics

  • Author(s): Le, CV
  • Pardos, ZA
  • Meyer, SD
  • Thorp, R
  • Editor(s): Rosé, Carolyn Penstein
  • Maldonado, Roberto Martínez
  • Hoppe, Heinz Ulrich
  • Luckin, Rose
  • Mavrikis, Manolis
  • Porayska-Pomsta, Kaska
  • McLaren, Bruce M
  • Boulay, Benedict du
  • et al.

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018. When teaching at scale in the physical classroom or online classroom of a MOOC, the scarce resource of personal instructor communication becomes a differentiating factor between the quality of learning experience available in smaller classrooms. In this paper, through real-time predictive modeling of engagement analytics, we augment a MOOC platform with personalized communication affordances, allowing the instructional staff to direct communication to learners based on individual predictions of three engagement analytics. The three model analytics are the current probability of earning a certificate, of submitting enough materials to pass the class, and of leaving the class and not returning. We engineer an interactive analytics interface in edX which is populated with real-time predictive analytics from a backend API service. The instructor can target messages to, for example, all learners who are predicted to complete all materials but not pass the class. Our approach utilizes the state-of-the-art in recurrent neural network classification, evaluated on a MOOC dataset of 20 courses and deployed in one. We provide evaluation of these courses, comparing a manual feature engineering approach to an automatic feature learning approach using neural networks. Our provided code for the front-end and back-end allows any instructional team to add this personalized communication dashboard to their edX course granted they have access to the historical clickstream data from a previous offering of the course, their course’s daily provided log data, and an external machine to run the model service API.

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