MOOCs on filters

May 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

Fullscreen capture 5282013 63100 PM.bmpThose familiar with the pictorial, mobile social network Instagram might notice that users have several preferences for uploading their pictures: beaches, fashion, cities, food, flowers, clothes, nails… Yes, it can be shallow and Internet culture is already mocking the network with memes and parodies. But what about education? Did the MOOC wave also reach students’  fancy mobile cameras? The answer is: yes!

Ok, there might be too much random images if you query the key hashtag: #mooc on Instagram, but results can be interesting too, especially if we consider types of activities students relate with MOOCs or the place where the photo was taken. They can tell a little bit about students’ behaviors in online learning and prove that MOOCs are also popular culture. There’s no turning back for higher education.

In a query I made on May 24, Instagram retuned 214 images with the hashtag #mooc. It is possible to see everything being related with MOOCs: Food, babies, music, fashion, nails… You can check here:

But let’s focus on pictures directly related with open online courses.

By filtering the query, we have about 87 images, which means – images which show people studying, reproducing class content, attending lectures, reading, making notes or presenting their certificates. Bellow, we can see which types are most presented:

  • Studying on a laptop or mobile device, such as iPad: 28. In most pictures the mobile device is not alone. Students also present their comments and notes, which are usually placed above the device.
  • Lectures or seminars (most of them reproducing slideshows presentations): 15.
  • MOOC content reproduced from the class: 9
  • Certificate: 10

Interesting to notice that although students can do MOOCs in their own pace, Instagram shows us that they’re taking online classes as they were real ones. For instance, coffee appears in three pictures; another one shows one student sleeping with the quote: “Studying. .. sure… #study #Mexico #mooc #bored”:

Screen Captures1

The top three most ‘liked’ pictures are:

With 36 likes, user @pivione28 from Singapore captured the edX interface, and its hashtags indicate that the video comes from Harvard’s The Ancient Greek Hero

Fullscreen capture 5282013 52838 PM.bmp

On the second place,  43 people liked @aeggie’s photo, posted on May 15, 2013. She presents her accomplishment of 96% in the course Gamification from Coursera, along with plush toys on the top of the screen.


The most ‘liked’ image, however, does not come from a popular MOOC platform, but from popular culture. Comic books, of course. An account with 1.075 followers, @geek_leak, promoted the MOOC ‘Gender Through Comic Books’ from Ball State University in Indiana, US.

Fullscreen capture 5282013 64445 PM.bmp

The picture received 51 likes and the MOOC itself happened from April 2 to May 20. The course was taught by professor Christine Blanch who also had a Twitter to promote classes, the @SuperMOOC. To conquer fans, the teaser video is present by none other than Stan Lee. According to its own Wikipedia article, the MOOC received more than 7.000 enrollments.

Are you on Instagram? How would you picture you own MOOC experience?


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