Measuring the Success of Online Education: Duolingo and MOOCs

February 5, 2013 at 1:21 am 2 comments

Was anyone else bothered by the argument in this NYtimes blog post?  “MOOCS aren’t effective in terms of completion rates; Duolingo is not a MOOC; Duolingo is effective.”  So…what does that tell us about MOOCs?

The paper on Duolingo effectiveness is pretty cool.  I think it’s particularly noteworthy that more prior knowledge of Spanish led to less of an effect of Duolingo.  I wonder if that’s because Duolingo is essentially using a worked example model, and worked examples do suffer from the expertise reversal effect.

Moreover, there are early indications that the high interactivity and personalized feedback of online education might ultimately offer a learning structure that can’t be matched by the traditional classroom.

Duolingo, a free Web-based language learning system that grew out of a Carnegie Mellon University research project, is not an example of a traditional MOOC. However, the system, which now teaches German, French, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and English, has roughly one million users and about 100,000 people spend time on the site daily.

via Measuring the Success of Online Education –

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Computer science counts towards the English Baccalaureate Open Source Edition of LiveCode (Modern HyperCard)

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. manenomatamu  |  February 5, 2013 at 3:46 am

    What evidence is there really that Duolingo is effective to learn the languages it purposes to teach?

  • 2. patrycja  |  March 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Thanks for the article link.

    I have taught and tutored primarily Asian students, and I find that MOOTS do work well for them. They are 1) more pressured by parents and competitive university entrance standards and 2) raised in a digital learning environment (e.g. online tutoring from a young age).

    The article points this out as well:

    “Seventy-five percent of the students are outside of United States, and Carnegie Mellon computer scientist Luis von Ahn notes that the foreign students are significantly more motivated and have a higher completion rate than their American counterparts.”

    The success of these programs may be culturally based, for now.

    I can’t see my Western students plunging into MOOT and other online education just yet. They need to develop a comfort level, and perhaps the motivation.

    But I think it will come, and as a teacher I’m excited by the possibilities.


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