MOOC instructor searches for the right amount of online moderation

Posted on January 18th, 2014

Inside Higher Ed provides a detailed look at how Ebrahim Afsah, an associate professor at the University of Copenhagen, has approached forum moderation in his Coursera-based MOOC. Dr. Afsah originally had a plan to let students in his course, Constitutional Struggles in the Muslim World, self moderate but course discussion “disintegrated into a snakepit of personal venom, religious bigotry and thinly disguised calls for violence.” In week two of the course, Dr. Afsah shifted to a hands-on approach and banned four students from posting in the forums, but some students have questioned Afsah’s new strict approach. Since the shift, discussion “remained on topic and steered clear of the name calling of the first weeks.” Dr. Afsah’s experience “highlights an important challenge that the scale of MOOCs presents: How do you wrangle tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of students into staying on topic?”