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      The Long-tailed Effect of MOOCs

      Science Impact, Ltd.

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          Investigating the student experience of massive open online courses (MOOCs) within the hospitality sector, with the joint objectives of improving participant retention and providing learning opportunities for all service providers. Professor Li Wei Hsu, from the Hospitality Management Graduate Programme at the National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism, has noted the need for hospitality workers to upskill in the face of globalisation: ‘Traditional education cannot disseminate knowledge fast enough to students and working adults.’ The internet offers a possible solution to this challenge with its ability to reach learners wherever they live, allowing them to access educational materials at their convenience. The new functionality of Web 2.0 offers greater interaction opportunities and user-driven material and underpins the phenomenon of MOOCs that Hsu says, ‘are changing the landscape of education.’ The main advantage of MOOCs is their ability to bring together people of all cultures and backgrounds, regardless of status and location. However, MOOCs are also characterised by a very high drop-out rate of around 90 percent, with those finishing tending to be advanced learners with high levels of educational attainment. Hsu explains, ‘In this project, I really want to explore MOOCs from the users’ viewpoint to get to the bottom of why people are not staying the course.’ The over-arching aim is to find ways of developing engaging, user-friendly MOOCs for the hospitality and tourism sector for adoption by industry associations for their members. MOOCs are intended to democratise learning by offering educational opportunities to anyone with an internet connection. The courses come in two types: the more traditionally-based computer-aided formats and those that promote social learning through peer interaction and observation. Both are open to anyone wishing to enrol, regardless of prior qualifications, and are either free or offered at a low fee. In addition, there are no penalties for dropping out, schedules are flexible and the hurdles for proceeding through each stage are set low. Given the open and accessible nature of the courses, registrants have different levels of motivation and many reasons for enrolment. The challenge for educators is to offer engaging material that suits all user groups and retains their interest throughout. As Hsu says, ‘Students who are extremely motivated will always stay the course, almost regardless of the format. We want to understand how to retain a greater proportion of students and make MOOCs applicable to the hospitality sector.’ One strategy Hsu has used in this project to retain students is to leverage long tail effect by offering niche modules to maintain students’ interest. The theory is that each module on its own might only interest a small segment of the community, but most of the community remains engaged. Hsu noted he was obliged to offer additional material to stem the drop-outs from the course. Hsu says the course, which focused on learning English in a hospitality context, ‘was carefully designed with the help of a panel of five experts from industry and academia.’ The design was piloted over a four-month period to iron out any technical functionality issues and to verify the usefulness of the course content before opening for registrations in February 2017.

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          Science Impact, Ltd.
          December 12 2018
          December 12 2018
          : 2018
          : 9
          : 62-64
          © 2018

          This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

          Earth & Environmental sciences,Medicine,Computer science,Agriculture,Engineering
          Earth & Environmental sciences, Medicine, Computer science, Agriculture, Engineering


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