Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is an innovative method in modern education, especially important for autonomous study and the sharing of global excellent education resources. However, it is not easy to implement the teaching process according to the specific characters of students by MOOCs because the number of participants is huge and the teacher cannot identify the characters of students through a face to face interaction. As a new subject combined with different areas, such as economics, sociology, environment, and even engineering, the education of sustainability-related courses requires elaborate consideration of individualized teaching for students from diverse backgrounds and with different learning styles. Although the major MOOC platforms or learning management systems (LMSs) have tried lots of efforts in the design of course system and the contents of the courses for sustainability education, the achievements are still unsatisfied, at least the issue of how to effectively take into account the individual characteristics of participants remains unsolved. A hybrid Neural Network (NN) model is proposed in this paper which integrates a Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) and with a Gated Recurrent Unit (GRU) based Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN) in an effort to detect individual learning style dynamically. The model was trained by learners’ behavior data and applied to predicting their learning styles. With identified learning style for each learner, the power of MOOC platform can be greatly enhanced by being able to offer the capabilities of recommending specific learning path and the relevant contents individually according to their characters. The efficiency of learning can thus be significantly improved. The proposed model was applied to the online study of sustainability-related course based on a MOOC platform with more than 9,400,000 learners. The results revealed that the learners could effectively increase their learning efficiency and quality for the courses when the learning styles are identified, and proper recommendations are made by using our method.
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