Unhappy with Your Course Discussion Forum? Facebook Seems to Be a Better Place for Student Engagement


By Michael Amigot / IBL 

Want more effective student-to-student engagement? Facebook happens to be a better space for MOOC learners to engage than courses’ forums.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University and Pacific Northwest analyzed data on student discussions on three MOOCs from Coursera and found that learners favor using Facebook groups over MOOC forums.


Students –who use their real names on Facebook and see each other’s profiles– say that they have more positive interactions and feel a stronger sense of community there.

In other words, when it comes to student engagement, Facebook’s groups are a more attractive place to stay, foster collaboration and make students feel closer to their instructors. In addition, Facebook posts are organized better. On MOOC forums, or at least on Coursera’s forums, “students feel they don’t get attention, don’t get replies”, said a lead researcher on EdSurge.

“On the Coursera discussion forum, anyone can start a thread… The information overload is very severe, it is unorganized, and you can’t guarantee the quality.”

The Role of Social Media in MOOCs: How to Use Social Media to Enhance Student Retention (PDF Document)