The generalization of Internet access and globalization have led to a change in aspects such as communication, work, leisure or business [1
], requiring every individual to constantly update their knowledge, which is known as lifelong learning. This continuous learning and the existence of Internet requires new models that explain the way in which one learns. Connectivism [2
] tries to explain the learning that takes place in the digital age, which is outside of the person, in the Web and the most important aspect will be the ability to create connections with the content and between different individuals. Siemens [2
] emphasizes “as knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses”.
To respond to these constant needs for training and new forms of learning, universities are opening their content through various initiatives such as the pioneering OpenCourseWare (OCW) [3
] or more recently, the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) that are offering university educational level since 2008 to thousands of people, with the only requirement of having access to the Internet [4
Two approaches stand out within the field of MOOC [5
], on one hand the cMOOC, based on a connectivist approach, in which its pedagogy its pedagogy promotes the social part of the course, try to focus it around the contributions of the students; on the other hand there are the xMOOC, based on content and with features similar to those of a traditional online course, these are the most widely known. There is a trend towards hybrid solutions [7
], which take advantage of the number of users of xMOOC platforms, with a space in which to manage users and content; and social spaces in which to develop the most connectivist part of cMOOC. The lack of control of information generated on the Web [2
] favors the formation of specialized spaces or Virtual Learning Communities (VLC), and specifically in MOOC it is common to find them as spaces where their participants interact and generate conversation and resources. There are different options when choosing a VLC [8
], being the most used digital social networks given their nature and which are used by the majority of MOOC participants, this makes them a convenient solution and with the possibility of having some participation.
New methodologies [6
] are increasingly used to achieve better results in MOOC, in most cases focusing on one of the drawbacks of this course modality, the large number of dropouts. Gamification is one of the possibilities in which we work to improve these results, this consists [9
] in applying elements of game design in contexts that are not games, in this case education. Although there are other interesting aspects in which it is possible to work using gamification, such as the VLC.
The aim of this research is to find out whether, through the application in one MOOC, with connectivism approach, of various gamification techniques, that increase motivation and fun, it is possible to achieve a greater engagement in terms of participation and generate a habit in the use of the VLC. With the purpose of increasing participation in the form of new content and conversations by the various members of the community associated with the MOOC. For the development of this work we have worked with a learning community on Facebook. As a first hypothesis, it has been considered that the very fact of participating in a digital social network such as Facebook and its elements are a way of gamification in itself. It has been analyzed which is the relation that the participants of the virtual community of learning have with the perception of the amusement and its engagement with it, relying on how they affect the characterization of participants according to these concepts, in order to obtain useful patterns of behavior to apply in future editions of the MOOC. This MOOC, from the Rey Juan Carlos University, lasted one month and was given during the month of September 2018, winning the First Award for Educational Innovation MiriadaX.
In the following sections the experience will be developed. In the “Background” section, a theoretical review is proposed about the main aspects of this work. In the following two sections, the design of the MOOC will be described and the main results obtained will be presented. Finally, this paper shows a discussion of the results obtained and ends with conclusions.
The research presented in this article works with the data extracted from student activity in an MOOC designed and delivered by the teaching team over the 28 days, comparing them with a satisfaction survey sent after completion.
reflects the overall results of the completion of MOOC and the virtual learning community on the last day of the edition (25/09/2018). The number of completions corresponds to students who passed at least 75% of the assessment activities and video lectures viewed. The percentages of finalization have been calculated in relation to those who registered and also to those who started the MOOC, this number is more significant, bearing in mind that the platform considers as initiated any user who has accessed at least once during the course period, as opposed to the 3980 registered users who did not enter even once during the edition, and therefore did not see any video or content.
As for the VLC, this table shows the total values after completing the course, highlighting a large interaction of users with respect to publications with comments and reactions. The latter refer to the Facebook “likes” of both publications and comments, taking into account the different likes options offered by the social network.
All events have been supported by Hangouts on air from YouTube, broadcast live. Table 3
shows a summary of the activity of these four events. This table shows, for each event, the Youtube information, in time ranges, from the day of the event, until the end of the edition and until the day before the second edition of the MOOC began. The values obtained are from the day of recording. The average duration was 30 min, and you can see the fall of users who saw them, and therefore engagement in the MOOC, as the edition progresses.
4.1. Live Events
Throughout the MOOC different types of activities were proposed, as seen above. The results of the synchronous gamification activities and the tools used to interact with the students will be analyzed below.
As for the interaction generated in the events, different elements were used to allow the participation of the spectators. For the first one we used YouTube’s own chat, with a total of 373 live conversations. Kahoot!, a very interesting application used in education to gamify, got a total of 88 participants, 10% of the viewers, who answered the 8 questions posed. The last two events asked for a previous participation through Sli.do. In the 4 days prior to each event MOOC students proposed 50 and 36 questions respectively for the interviewees, and these obtained 102 and 52 likes. Sli.do allows anonymous questions to be published or the name to be written, and only 36% were anonymous at both events.
4.2. Participation in the VLC
In this section the specific results obtained in the Facebook community will be analyzed. Figure 4
shows the generated activity in a graphical way. At the top of the graph you can see the evolution of the publications (red), this shows a downward trend as the end of MOOC edition approaches, versus the interaction (comments and reactions) between members that has been more constant. It emphasizes that the number of active users remains constant throughout the edition. The lower part of Figure 4
shows the evolution of community members, which has been growing even at the end of the edition. During the whole edition, both students who started at different times, even at the last minute, and new enrollees were incorporated into the community, as the platform allows registration until the end of the edition.
In order to check whether a compromise had really been achieved and to create a habit in the use of VLC, independently of MOOC, Facebook group was analyzed as soon as the edition of MOOC had been completed, without any kind of community dynamization or emails encouraging participation. Figure 5
shows the result of the activity between 26 September, 2018 and 1 April, 2019, the day before the start of the second edition of the MOOC. The result was an increase of 425 new members, 387 publications, 605 comments, and 2755 reactions. An average of 53.4 active members per day, albeit with a large deviation (196.4).
4.3. Satisfaction Survey
After completing MOOC, a survey was sent to find out the assessment of students, answered by a total of 480 individuals, that is, 10.5% of those who started the course. Although the survey had a total of 63 questions, the seven most representative questions in relation to this work, summarized in Table 4
, have been selected.
Firstly, the students’ perception of three aspects related to the MOOC was analyzed: enjoyment and gamification; directly related to questions 1 and 2 respectively. Figure 6
shows each of the three aspects related to question 7 on whether the MOOC was completed at 100%, 75%, or not.
The aspect of enjoyment or fun again highlights that those who have had the most fun have been those who have finished at 100% with 61.6%, and 75% with 55.6%. In both cases, those students who have completed the MOOC consider that they have had fun, an aspect that was sought to be promoted. As for the applied gamification, they were asked if they had felt like in a game, in this case the value as expected decreases, since a complete gamification was not applied, for example to MiriadaX platform itself, even so more than 40% of those who finished the MOOC, have had this perception.
Continuing with these two aspects, Figure 7
shows the relationship, in this case, with respect to the age of the students.
For fun, the values are around 45.3% of the 30–39 age group and 48.3% of those under 30; and the maximum values of 59.5% for the 40–49 age group and 56.7% again for those over 60. The other aspect, most related to gamification, only the age range between 40–49 with 43.9% and over 60 with 45% have felt in a game. As expected, those under 30 were the most skeptical with 29.3%.
Secondly, the aspects related to the VLC on Facebook and the MOOC have been analyzed. On the one hand to check if the applied gamification has increased the participation and on the other hand to check if its elements have really achieved a real commitment of its members with the community and can be considered as motivating elements.
shows the answers given to the degree of participation in the Facebook group using its different elements.
In general, members of group have read the publications of others, drastically reducing the rest of participative actions, where almost 50% of those asked not shared publications, commented on others or published; although it stands out that between 20% and 24% have actively carried out these actions. The second most common interaction was the use of “likes”, with just over 41%.
The following graph (Figure 9
) analyzes the results related to motivation in the VLC, from question 5, in order to know how it affects the interaction of others on the subject’s participation in the community when publishing.
Answers to this fifth question reveal that, in general, members of the group are motivated when someone comments on their publications with 48.3%, that they share with 47.9% and that they get “likes” only 37%.
In order to obtain an overview of the results of the previous graphs, Figure 10
proposes a more complete analysis of question 5 from the point of view of the ages of the participants. In this way, the aim is to understand in depth the motivation for a user that others interact with their publications.
After the results shown in the graph, it is the participants between 50 and 59 who are most motivated to share and comment on their publications around 51%, being in turn the least important and motivators seem to them the “likes” with only 36.5% interest in them, along with those over 60 who are even less interested with 30%. In general, the rest of ages are motivated with more than 41% to comment and share with them, being the age groups under 39 who have more attraction for “likes” with 40%.
Finally, fun has been studied as a key element to generate an engagement in the MOOC and, as a consequence, a greater participation in the learning community. Table 5
shows a comparison between the student’s perception of fun when performing the MOOC (Q1) and the questions that refer to the feeling of being in a game (Q2), being part of the community (Q6), and about participation in Facebook (Q3 and Q4 (d)). The most representative values of the results have been highlighted in bold, which will be reviewed below.
It is verified that those participants who have had more sensation of being in a game (Agree or Strongly agree in Q2) are those who have had more fun (Agree or Strongly agree in Q1), the same relation that exists with the feeling of being part of the community (Agree or Strongly agree in Q6). About sharing publications, the 86.96% that have not shared publications (Strongly disagree in Q3) are those that have less fun in the MOOC (Strongly disagree in Q1). The surveyed participants that more actively share their publications (Agree or Strongly agree in Q3) are those who have had more fun (Agree or Strongly agree in Q1). At last, those participants who have put more likes (Strongly agree in Q4), have also had fun (Strongly agree in Q1), being these close to 35%. Almost 74% of those who did not put likes (Strongly disagree in Q4) did not have a perception of fun with the MOOC (Strongly disagree in Q1).
5. Discussion and Conclusions
In general, MOOCs are known and criticized for the low student numbers that complete them. Although this value has not been demonstrated to be dependent on the quality of the contents [1
], neither is the objective of this research to improve it, if it is true that it can be used to get an idea of the degree of commitment to the course on the part of the students. It is common in MOOCs to find a high drop-out, around 90%–95% [5
], compared to the results obtained in this work with 19.4%, which double the most common values. Specifically, 15.9% saw all the contents and surpassed all the activities to 100%.
This research has analyzed the convenience of applying gamification actions in a hybrid MOOC model, where special importance has been given to the social part, promoting those characteristics of a cMOOC, to increase engagement, fun and create a habit when using the VLC, in order to generate new content and conversation.
Two types of activities were proposed in the design, giving rise to a particularly active community with almost 2000 publications during the 28 days of publication. There has been a great deal of interaction between community members with over 2500 comments and 13,000 interactions. Asynchronous activities, associated with content within the MOOC, in which the student was encouraged to publish the results in the community, as well as in other team initiatives in previous MOOCs [21
]. Synchronous activities, through live events, were quite seen, although with the classic curve of fall in the participation of the MOOC [7
] and in them the audience participated, even though they had to make use of different technologies like Kahoot! or Sli.do, we must not forget that the type of MOOC student is very heterogeneous and does not always have advanced digital competences [4
]. Participation is remarkable in these activities, to a greater or lesser degree, with 1963 visitors who during the MOOC entered the first event, 43.1% of those who started the course, up to 9% of those who saw the last event, as shown in Table 3
. This participation is quite high, bearing in mind also that these were voluntary activities and meant that the student had access to a space other than the MOOC platform. Participation has been quite high, bearing in mind that these were voluntary activities and meant that the student had access to a space other than the MOOC platform. Within these events, except the first where the interaction was simple, through the chat of the video itself on YouTube, the rest had mainly viewers in front of students who participated actively entering platforms where the activity was performed as Kahoot! or Sli.do. It should not be forgotten that these types of initiatives require some digital skills, and although its use was a novelty with respect to other MOOCs, its use was minority.
shows that there has been activity, once the edition of the MOOC is finished, both in publications and in interactions, therefore, it has been possible to create a habit and for the members to see the usefulness of participating in this type of communities. Gamification promotes socially desirable learning behaviors [27
], in this case the use of the social network itself as a learning space in which to share content.
Based on the satisfaction survey, the students’ perception of the sensation of being in a game and having fun participating in the MOOC and the VLC has been analyzed. Figure 6
reveals that those who have had the most fun are those who have finished the MOOC at 100% with 61.6% and 75% with more than 50%, fun is an important element when promoting engagement [23
] and to take into account when designing a gamified model [21
]. Regardless of the ending, if we focus on age, and reviewing the two graphs globally, we can see that in general the groups that have had the most fun have been from the age of 40. And more specifically, only those over 40 have really had some perception of being in a game, as opposed to those under 30, which as expected have a different concept of game, familiar with mobile applications or real videogames.
From the point of view of motivation, another key element to achieve greater engagement in the model presented, participation in the Facebook group (Figure 8
) reveals how students have worked within the community. Highlighting the reading and decreasing the rest of the actions within Facebook, being giving “likes” to others, over 41%, what has been used most, followed by commenting and sharing publications. But, if we change the focus and look at the motivation to receive this type of recognition in the publications or interactions that the student makes, the results change, (Figure 9
) with almost 50% to those who do motivate the fact that they are commented or shared. These feelings generated by the interaction (comments, likes, etc.) have a relation with the activity of the students in the MOOC [25
]. Within this point of view, it is interesting how the participants are predisposed to give “likes” but only 37% are motivated to receive them. Looking at the age analysis in Figure 10
, as expected, the younger generations under 39 are the most motivated to receive likes (41%), to share their publications (40%–45%) and to comment (46%–48%) on generations more habituated to the use of social networks [34
], as opposed to those over 60, of which only 30% were interested in receiving likes. The younger generations, who have shown a greater interest in these elements, are more susceptible to what is known as gameful experience also in contexts that are not games [35
], having a predisposition to greater engagement when applying these proposals.
Analyzing this type of elements, typical of social networks such as likes, comments or the possibility of sharing other people’s publications, offer a “visible status” and a “social engagement” [36
]. The ability to follow each other’s learning progress, upvoting other peers [26
] can harness these motivational aspects of gamification to stimulate participation and engagement with learning contents and with other participants [27
], as has been shown in this work. The use of VLC is more and more common in education [27
], making use of social networks such as VLC it will be possible, in an indirect way, to take advantage of the use of these own gamification characteristics [26
The findings shown in Table 5
reinforce this relationship between fun and social part, from feeling in a community where those participants who have had the most fun have also felt a greater degree of community with 67%. On the other hand, no direct relationship has been found between the degree of fun and the sharing of MOOC activities in the community. Finally, there is a certain relationship among the participants who have used “likes” the most and those who have had the most fun with 45%, seeming to them an attractive element, and we consider that it could be associated with the gamification points and the sensation of happiness that it produces, as other authors [26
It is clear that those participants who have had the greatest feeling of being in a game (Q2) are those who have had the most fun, the same relationship that exists with the feeling of being part of the community. Of those surveyed, 23.13% took an active part in sharing their publications, of which around 30% thought it was fun, as opposed to those who did not share anything and did not perceive any fun in the MOOC. Finally, those participants who liked it the most also had fun, being close to 45%. Almost 74% of those who did not put likes did not have a perception of fun with the MOOC. Participants that agreed or strongly agreed with having fun with the MOOC shows higher levels of gamification (Q2), community feeling (Q6), and participation (Q4). However, there is no direct relation between having fun and sharing MOOC activities in Facebook. Therefore, the participation of students in sharing their own activities is not enhanced through having fun. Other actions to motivate sharing activities should be implemented.
As a main conclusion, through the use of gamification, by using two types of activities (synchronous and asynchronous) from a MOOC, and the elements of digital social networks themselves (Facebook), we have achieved greater engagement and generation of content for the VLC. It has been proven that users have had fun and active participation in the community, creating a habit beyond the edition of the MOOC. Fun can be key to achieving greater engagement both in the course, with a higher degree of completion, and in the community.
This increase in motivation to participate in a social network is thanks to attractive elements that can be used as gamification by their own nature, as opposed to more restrained spaces such as online course forums. It has been proposed that members of the community receive an incentive to publish, with this type of interest sample towards their contributions.
With respect to previous experiences, we have worked more on the interaction with the student, to make it more active, incorporating tools such as Kahoot! or Sli.do in live events, although with an extra difficulty for certain users due to lack of digital knowledge, as well as inconvenience when having to use more tools.
The next line of research will seek to deepen the students’ perception of the usefulness of the content generated, increase the number of interactive activities in which to apply gamification, incorporating new digital tools. We will also work on the design of activities that are more fun and attractive for students.