"Watching a Lecture Is an Ineffective Way to Learn", Concludes Carnegie Mellon University

The way to learn from a MOOC is by doing.

A study by Carnegie Mellon University found that just watching videos without engaging interactively is an ineffective way to learn.

The title of this paper is eloquent: “Learning is Not a Spectator Sport: Doing is Better than Watching for Learning from a MOOC”.

“When one is watching a lecture or reading material, there’s an illusion of learning,” said in Wired Campus’ Blog Kenneth Koedinger, a professor of human-computer interaction and psychology at Carnegie Mellon, and an author of a report on the study. “Lessons communicated in a lecture don’t stick.”

“When students listen to a lecture or read text, it is easy for them to feel confident that they know the material. But that feeling is deceptive, because sometimes students come away from lectures with misconceptions. And without trying to replicate what they’ve learned in lectures or receiving feedback on their work, they won’t know when they’re making mistakes.”

“MOOCs can be a great way to get learning distributed to more people. But we need to put more emphasis on developing interactive materials.”

Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, highlighted that edX courses already contain the kinds of interactive activities and instant feedback described by the researchers.

Kenneth Koedinger will be the keynote speaker of the first Open edX Universities Symposium on November 11 in Washington DC.

Download the research paper (PDF)