data science, digital politics, smart cities...|

Why do MOOC users meet face to face?

Last week Monica Bulger, Cristobal Cobo and I presented a paper at the ICA’s pre-conference on higher education innovation. Monica and Cris are the experts in this area and did most of the heavy lifting, but I was pleased to take part, mainly out of a professional curiosity about how Massively Open Online Courses may or may not be changing the face of higher education. In the paper we looked in particular at patterns of offline meetups amongst the users of these online courses, using data from the Meetup API (my role being to facilitate data gathering and manipulation). Meetup have an open and generous stance to API data, and after a bit of coding I was able to extract information on several thousand face to face meetings of students taking part in Coursera courses in over 100 countries around the world.

Meetup - Map

More clicks on Wordle produced a word cloud of the titles of each meetup, which I can’t resist because it looks so nice even if it probably isn’t a good way of doing science.Word Cloud - Titles

What does it all mean? Beyond showing the impressive worldwide reach of Coursera, and the fact that people like face to face interaction when they are learning, we are still deciding to be honest with you. Suggestions welcome.

About the Author:


  1. Alexandra Cosma (@AlexCosma90) 15 October 2014 at 10:01 am

    This is an interesting topic. Is your paper online? I’d love to what patterns you uncovered here.

    • jonathanbright 15 October 2014 at 11:14 pm

      It’s not online yet – drop me an email and I’d be happy to send an advance copy. Jonathan

  2. anil maddu 16 March 2015 at 5:03 am

    Interesting, can you mail me the paper :

Leave A Comment