Why do MOOCs attract so many participants, and webinars attract so few?

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  • Elisabeth
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Why do MOOCs attract so many participants, and webinars attract so few?

(the beginning of this post refers to this thread from where it was moved: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/140-co...sandec-was-june-2015 )

Oh, wow, that's amazing that so many people took your course! 5000 registered and still 10% who completed it, I think that is very impressive. (I am usually one of those people who register to check it out and then don't manage to complete it)

I am trying to understand why it seems easier to get a huge turn-out for a MOOC that spans several weeks than for a webinar that goes only for an hour or two. Both are free, both help you learn and both require good internet access. OK, I guess one difference is that a MOOC does not require you to log in at a specific time of the day because it is not "live" but asynchronous. Could that be the main reason?

I am asking because with the various sanitation webinars that I have helped organise in the last two years, even with a lot of advertising, we don't seem to reach more than say 50 people max. in the webinar itself (plus say 50 who view the recording afterwards). Like yesterday's CLTS monitoring webinar, which I thought was great, well advertised, very interesting speakers and so forth, still only had about 40 participants.

So how do these MOOCs do it to attract so many more people even though they require a larger time commitment? Or is it because the topics of MOOCs are more general (like "household water treatment" rather than a webinar on "sand filtration for households in Asian countries")? Should we try webinars with more general topics in order to attract more people? Or is it a case of "small is beautiful" and one should not hope for hundreds of people in a webinar?

I once attended a webinar by USAID on nutrition and stunting and it had I think 300 participants, how did they do that. Still pales in comparison though to a MOOC with 3000 or even 30,000 participants...

(sorry for hijacking your thread, Paul and Fabian, I can create a spin-off thread if some responses come in)
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • yokepean
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  • I'm a PhD candidate researching emergency sanitation. Based in Bandung, Indonesia
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Re: Why do MOOCs attract so many participants, and webinars attract so few?

Hi Elisabeth,

I'm writing from my perspective as a student based in Indonesia.

In my case, the webinars usually take place at night. The room I rent does not have internet. I could go to campus, but my office is locked by that time so I would have to sit at one of the tables outside the building and feed the mosquitoes. Even then, the wifi connection might be too slow to stream a webinar. Plus, most of the campus is really dark after 6/7pm.

So, much as I would like to attend the webinars, the timing is a huge constraint!
Yoke Pean Thye | PhD Candidate | Bandung Institute of Technology (Indonesia)
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Why do MOOCs attract so many participants, and webinars attract so few?

Dear Yoke,

Thanks very much for your feedback, that's an important aspect to keep in mind.
So we should run webinars also at times when the time zone is working hours in Asia, not only the time that we often select, namely afternoon in Europe (thinking that this is morning in America and evening in Asia, so relatively suitable for everyone; except the people in Australia and New Zealand for them it's in the middle of the night then).

I am wondering if MOOCs are also more popular than webinars as they have usually no "live" component; everything is done asynchronously so one doesn't need to worry about time zones.
Having said that, it's the "live" aspect that I personally really enjoy with webinars, rather than watching a recording later. Also in the live sessions one can contribute with comments and questions which is not possible with the recording.

Does anyone else have suggestions to make webinars more accessible/useful/popular for folks compared to MOOCs?

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Ulm, Germany
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  • ddiba
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Re: Why do MOOCs attract so many participants, and webinars attract so few?

Dear Elisabeth,

I think one option could be to do the webinars in 3 or so sessions, spaced about 3 hours in between. For example, a 2-hour webinar could stream at 9am CET (1am in California, 4am in New York, 11am in Uganda, 1:30pm in many parts of India and 4pm in China). This favours some regions but not others. However, if other sessions are run at say 1pm and 5pm (CET), then even those regions that were unfavoured by the first session do get a chance for a more suitable time.
Of course this means that the organizers get to do more work by having a repeated live session of the same content but since the participants are different, the discussion can still feel "new".
I have attended some webinars run by people in the US and they use this approach. About 3 sessions spaced at different times. And they are able to pull in some significant non-USA participants.

Regards,

Daniel
Daniel Ddiba
Co-lead for SuSanA WG5: Productive sanitation and food security
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  • Carol McCreary
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Re: Why do MOOCs attract so many participants, and webinars attract so few?

The live aspect of Webnairs is enhanced when the event is interactive, which is difficult to do with much of the available software. And when it is the number of participants is usually limited.

I think the most interesting are those where the moderator - before or during the webnair - draws attention to penetrating questions and asks for input. Rather than just ask for comments on line, encourage parallel discussions and suggest hashtags. These discussions can continue on Twitter after the live event and sometimes lead to collaboration among attendees.
Carol McCreary
Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human (PHLUSH)
1240 W. Sims Way #59, Port Townsend, Washington 98368 USA

Toilet availability is a human right and well-designed sanitation systems restore health to our cities, our waters and our soils.
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