Cross-cultural MOOCs: designing MOOCs for Chinese students
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Advocates of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), a cross-cultural phenomenon that has attracted public attention throughout the world, portray them as an equalizing force in international higher education; but researchers have noted discrepancies in how learners from different countries have engaged with them. The number of MOOC learners in China is growing rapidly, and Chinese learners are enthusiastic about the unprecedented freedom they now have in selecting courses and accessing resources from the best international universities. However, they have a significantly low completion rate and may experience unique challenges about which little is known. This study took into account the diversity of MOOC learners and proposed changes to its course design to make it more inclusive for Chinese students. I used a mixed method—including document analysis, surveys, and interviews—to investigate the Chinese experience of taking Western MOOCs and also to explore the educational theories and design principles of MOOCs that have been discussed in the Western and Chinese literature. My analysis of the literature revealed issues of contextualization that may play a critical role in improving the MOOC experience for Chinese students. Drawing on theoretical educational frameworks—including motivation, community of inquiry, self-regulated learning, and social identity—my analysis of surveys and interviews identified common themes in the Chinese experience of Western MOOCs. In accordance with the results of my analysis, and also in line with interaction equivalency and situational principles, this study provided suggestions for adapting MOOCs to Chinese learners, such as enhancing content quality, improving learner–learner and learner–instructor interactions, providing social support, and collaborating with local universities and agencies in providing technical and credentialing support.
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