LearnWorlds Research Lab: Triggering productive talk in online courses (The colMOOC project) | LearnWorlds Blog

We are thrilled to announce that LearnWorlds is participating in the “colMOOC project“, a three years Research Project, funded by the European Union, along with other great partners from the industry and the academia.

What is the objecting of colMOOC? Watch the following video:

We are working with Universities and MOOC providers in Europe to develop an innovative discussion component for the next generation of MOOCs! LearnWorlds unique focus on offering social learning experiences in undeniable.

What are MOOCs?

MOOCs or Massive open online courses are courses that aim at unlimited participation and open access via the web. The name “MOOCs” is also used for the platforms that offer these courses. MOOCs emerged as a popular mode of learning in 2012 and are widely researched in distance education. In essence, all of our clients provide a MOOC, but it is paid.

What is the project about?

In a previous article, we pinpointed the importance of discussions in online learning: Peer-talk makes learners more motivated and active through the course. Speech and conversation make learners to negotiate their understanding and be involved in a fruitful talk.

The research project aims to find ways to engage online students in productive dialogues over the learning subject while attending a course.

Peer-talk makes learners more motivated and active through the course
Peer-talk makes learners more motivated and active through the course

The research’s purpose

So our aim is to advance learners’ conversations in courses, through smart technologies. Moreover, the project will study which Learning Analytics are adequate for monitoring the interactions between learners. A lot of great value here when the project outcomes are integrated into your schools.

Why is it imperative that students talk to each other?

In open-ended discussions, learners construct logical arguments based on accurate evidence and compare their contributions with their partners. These conversations create an Academically Productive Talk between learners that makes the concepts under study more clear.

However, promoting students’ reasoned participation require teachers to provide dynamic support via facilitative conversational interventions.

How is this going to be achieved?

With the help of Conversational Agents which will automatically intervene during students’ dialogue. As a result, learners will have one more partner in their group who will have plenty of prompts 🙂

Figure 1: Mentor Chat Environment (Tegos & Demetriadis, 2017)
Figure 1: Mentor Chat Environment (Tegos & Demetriadis, 2017)

Is it worth the effort?

Studies have already shown the benefits of such smart technologies. For example, Walker, Rummel, and Koedinger (2011) indicate in their research that an agent displaying conversational prompts can help students produce conceptually richer statements.

Based on these prompts, learners expand on each other’s ideas, support the validity of their claims making explicit references to the studied material and logically connect their statements through rigorous argumentation. For more examples on student conversations also read our article about “Building an online learning community” where we thoroughly exemplify online discussions.

Learnworlds contribution to the project

So, Learnworlds now joins forces with 9 other partners to carry out educational and training activities in large numbers of learners, in multiple countries (Germany, Denmark, Spain, United Kingdom, Greece) to test and validate the project’s results – and we are so excited about that!

The expected benefits

The expected benefits from the project are several and not just academic: They also concern every day instructors who want to be successful:

Needless to say that LearnWorlds will make use of those new tools and methods in its platform, in ways that are meaningful for our instructors and their students. LearnWorlds is a research-based team and we are always committed to use research-based findings to provide the most unique learner experience!

Click here to learn more about this awesome project.

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CEO and Co-Founder at

Panos Siozos is the CEO and Co-Founder of LearnWorlds. He holds a PhD in Educational Technology and has worked extensively as a computer science educator, software engineer, IT manager and researcher in many EU funded research projects. Before following the startup route, he was working in the European Parliament as a policy adviser for research and innovation.

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