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Join us for the 8th Annual Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium, April 22-24, 2015 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, Dallas, TX
CFP will open October 1, 2014

Check out the Conference Wrap-up pages from the 2014 conference. 

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Watch the Keynote Address
Reclaim Learning: A Domain of One's Own
Keynoter Jim Groom, University of Mary Washington, shares innovations that support the ethos of open environments for online teaching and learning. 

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Jim Groom, University of Mary Washington, to deliver Keynote Address

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Save the Dates

22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Effects of Course Length in a MOOC

Jason Mock (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA)
Dr. José Vázquez-Cognet (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA)
Session Information
April 9, 2014 - 2:30pm
Open Education
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Research Study
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Houston A
Session Duration: 
50 Minutes
Information Session 2
Virtual Session

What is the most effective length for a MOOC course? An experiment to asses the relationship between course length and motivation in an Economics MOOC.

Extended Abstract

What is the most effective length for a MOOC course? Clearly part of the answer to this question depends on the quantity of the course content. For instance, a course covering both Macroeconomics and Microeconomics may need to be taught in a longer time frame than a course simply covering Microeconomics. Pedagogical strategies will also tend to influence course length. For instance, a course relying on research assignments may need to offer longer preparation time than a course relying mostly on multiple-choice assesments. Despite these course-specific constraints, many times instructors do have quite a bit of flexibility in terms of the duration of their courses. At least they do comparing to when they teach the course within the academic calendar impossed by their institutions.

Therefore, MOOCs offer us a great opportunity to investigate the relationship between student motivation and course length. This presentation will report on an experiment designed to study this relationship.

We have traditionally taught our MOOC, Microeconomics Priciples, in an eight-week format. This past August, however, we created two additonal versions of the course: a 16-week version and a 4-week version. All versions were exactly the same in terms of content, enrollment period, and starting date. By comparing variables such as drop-out rates, sudent participation, student performance, and student satisfcation between the three versions we expect to learn whether one of them was more effective than the others.

Clearly the results of this experiment would be of great interest to any MOOC instructor with some flexibility in terms of the course length. But, perhaps more importantly, the results would also be relevant to many academic institutions as they struggle to redesign antiquated academic calendars put in place before the emergence of online technologies.

Throughout this presentation, we hope to explore answers to the questions of:
What is the relationship between course length and overall satisfaction?

  • ... and retention rates?
  • ... and student participation?
  • ... and student performance?
  • What drives a student to enroll in one duration or another?
  • Do students enroll in more than one duration?


By the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of various durations of a MOOC.
  • Understand student motivations in choosing a course duration.
  • Describe how insights into optimal MOOC durations may relate to campus course durations.
Lead Presenter

Jason Mock is currently an Instructional Designer in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and in the office of Online & Continuing Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has designed two nationally award-winning, fully-online courses and works extensively with faculty to craft engaging course experiences for students. He also helps lead Illinois' foray into MOOCs with its Coursera initiative. Jason holds a Masters of Education in Human Resource Development with a focus on Instructional Technologies from the University of Illinois.