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Applying and Evaluating Visualization Design Guidelines for a MOOC Dashboard to Facilitate Self-Regulated Learning Based on Learning Analytics.

1. Introduction

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have made a paradigm change in higher education through the potentialities for diverse learners from all over the world to access open and free contents of high quality [1]. One of the main characteristics in MOOCs is to provide diverse learners with an opportunity to personalize their learning in terms of topic, time, place, and method. The learners in MOOCs have different learning objectives and plans to utilize online courses according to their personal needs. Such characteristics lead the learners in choosing their own personalized path through self-regulated learning (SRL). Therefore, low completion and high drop-out rates have been key issues in MOOC, even if their popularity has become increasingly high [2] [3] [4].

In fact, obtaining a certificate could be the objective of applying to a MOOC for some students who need to study the entire content across the MOOC. However, other types of students might have plans to study only interesting topics or contents except for what they already studied. Such student's purpose of applying the MOOC might be different. Thus, MOOCs require that students should be autonomous and further self-regulated during the learning process since learners start studying alone and keep learning without direct contact with teachers and peers [5].

As the field of learning analytics and big data for education has been rapidly growing, MOOC platforms should provide personalized learning environments with differentiated feedback for each individual student who sets his or her own learning goals. In a MOOC learning context, all activities of learners and teachers might be digitalized and collected as meaningful educational big-data which can be used for data mining [6]. Through a dashboard, MOOCs can collect, analyze, and utilize students' abundant log data about their conditions and learning styles. In spite of such effectiveness of MOOCs, most students do not have suitable SRL competencies or easily feel bored and then drop-out [7] [8]. Therefore, MOOC dashboards should support students' continuous or persistent learning and their successful performance by promoting their SRL cycle suggested by Zimmerman [9]. Although a large body of prior research mentioned its importance in helping students to gain SRL abilities, there has been little research on improving SRL through the dashboard. Recently, Qu and Chen [10] indicated visual analytics could play a crucial role during the learning process of MOOCs in help of the revolutionary improvement of MOOC platforms. However, it is still challenging to extract meaningful information from data of students' activities and visualize the data intuitively and effectively, especially in terms of SRL. Accordingly, this study aims to develop and validate design strategies for visualizing a MOOC dashboard to facilitate SRL based on learning analytics. To achieve this goal, firstly, we systemically reviewed relevant previous studies and analyzed the learning analytics functions of the extant typical MOOC dashboards such as edX, K-MOOCs, Coursera, Khan Academy, and FutureLearn, and then tried to derive design guidelines which can be applied to the design and development of MOOC dashboards.

This study pays attention to the critical significance of visualization of MOOC Dashboards as visual feedback for students to facilitate SRL. This study, thus, aims to provide guidelines for visually designing and developing a MOOC dashboard to enhance students' SRL. We conducted our study to address the following research questions:

1) What are visualization guidelines of the MOOC dashboard to promote SRL based on learning analytics?

2) How do educational technology experts validate a prototype of the MOOC dashboard applying such visualization guidelines to promote SRL?

3) How do users/learners evaluate a prototype of the MOOC dashboard applying such visualization guidelines to promote SRL?

2. Theoretical Background

MOOCs are more interactive than traditional online courses in the sense that MOOC dashboards play an essential role in analyzing students' learning history, and in offering appropriate instructional interventions in addition to delivering learning resources such as video lectures, reading materials, textbooks, and exams. Another difference from other online learning and e-learning, which focused on proving participant's knowledge achievement, is that the motivation of MOOC learners aims to their individual interests and learning experiences [11]. The majority of MOOC learners describe their intentions on taking courses as gaining fun, enjoying new experiences, and finding social relationships in their academic interests. Therefore, an indicator of MOOC completion might be process-focused rather than outcome-focused [12] [13] since aims and motivation of MOOC participants are widely varied [14]. It can be also demonstrated from a study which was done by Harvard University, whose results found that 39 percent of their learners have current and former teaching backgrounds [15]. It demonstrates that the main objective of MOOCs helps to promote active learning experiences and SRL.

In fact, the SRL strategies have been studied for decades in traditional face-to-face (F2F) classroom settings. A widely accepted definition of SRL is the ability to plan, control, and manage learning activities and processes that enhance goal achievement [16] [17]. One of the most established models of SRL in the previous literature might be Zimmerman and Martinez-Pons's [18] model that was comprised of ten SRL strategies. Furthermore, Zimmerman and Campillo [19] suggested the cyclic phase model of SRL, which comprises a forethought phase, a performance phase, and a reflection phase. The SRL strategies could help a learner develop and sustain learning for better engagement and learning outcomes. The present research builds on Zimmerman and Martinez-Pons' [18] model of SRL and Zimmerman and Campillo's [19] cyclic phase model of SRL. The main reason is since one of the MOOC characteristics is the course directed by users themselves which means to plan their own learning course by themselves, to perform learning directed by themselves, and to evaluate themselves (reflect themselves if they do not want to get a certificate).

Students who appropriately apply SRL skills are more successful in higher-order thinking such as critical thinking, problem solving and reasoning [20] [21]. Moreover, they might have a higher academic performance, motivation, and learning interests [17]. In online learning environments as well as in face-to-face (F2F) learning environments, there is growing empirical evidence for the role of SRL strategies on student engagement and learning outcomes in online learning environments [1] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26]. Taken together, a large body of prior research in online learning environments as well as traditional learning environments suggests that prompting learners with SRL strategies can improve their academic performance and success in learning.

Prior studies have investigated applications of SRL strategies in online learning environments. Such online SRL strategies include goal setting (e.g. [1]), planning (e.g. [7] [8]), time management (e.g. [7] [8] [24]) metacognition (e.g. [24]), motivations (e.g. [1]), self-monitoring (e.g. [7] [8]), and effort regulation (e.g. [24]).

In the current research of Kizilcec, and colleagues [27], SRL strategies of self-monitoring, self-evaluation, goal setting/planning, time management, effort regulation, and help seeking can be used for learners to succeed in their MOOCs. Thus, the success of learning MOOCs depends on SRL which involves setting up students' learning goals, exploring efficient, effective and appealing ways to learn, and monitoring their learning progress to achieve the goals. The new field of learning analytics is related to similar evolutions in big data, e-science, web analytics, and educational data mining [28] [29] [30] [31]. The use of such learning analytics in MOOC environments mainly results in its dashboard. A wide variety of heterogeneous students easily experience difficulty in utilizing the analytical tools provided to explore the data of MOOC platforms. To tackle this problem, visual dashboard systems to analyze learning behaviors should be developed for data on MOOCs based on learning analytics [10]. In accordance with results of the research conducted by Schaffer, Huynh, O'Donovan, Hollerer, Xia, and Lin [32], student behaviors relating to SRL in the context of MOOCs are categorized according to their features.

In recent years, the success of the visual dashboard systems and relevant models depends on achieving the intended behaviors of the students. To visualize learning patterns in MOOCs, Chen, Davis, Lin, Hauff, and Houben [33] have developed statistical models to predict drop-outs based on learner activity logs of MOOCs. Duval [34] proposed goal-oriented visualizations which of all the activities helped learners perceive their learning progress and manage their future activities. Visualizing MOOC dashboards based on learning analytics can benefit instructors, operators and institutions (i.e. university or company administrators) to guide students' behaviors interactively and support their persistent learning. In this respect, from the perspective of students, well-visualized MOOC dashboards might support their SRL by providing appropriate information on student's behaviors. Currently, Authors [5] suggested design strategies for visualizing information of MOOC dashboards on a basis of learning analytics.

3. Research Method

3.1 LM-Dashboard Design and Visualization Strategies

The LM-Dashboard in this study was designed as a dashboard prototype within MOOC environments based on the cyclic phase model of SRL suggested by Zimmerman and Campillo [19]. In particular, the LM-Dashboard focused on the reflection phase among three cyclic phases when a dashboard plays a role in providing and visualizing learning data by analyzing student's behaviors and activities. Moreover, it helps students to become aware, reflect and sense-make in their progress and achievements through learning analytics toward the learning objectives [42]. This study aims to design and develop LM-Dashboard prototypes whose visualization strategies through learning analytics can promote SRL in the MOOC environments on the premise that goal setting and planning has been done by students in the forethought phase, and learning on the MOOC platforms would be in the performance phase. Therefore, the achievement figures and numbers of the LM-Dashboard represent more individual and customized quantitative and qualitative data compared to learner's plans. The theoretical backgrounds of such quantitative and qualitative data would be on the sixth visualization strategies (6.1) to promote SRL on the MOOC dashboard shown in Table 3.

In the first prototype, the LM-Dashboard consists of three main menus for Course Progress, Learning Activities, Learning Evaluation shown in Fig. 1. The Course Progress page contains (a) Weekly learning achievement progress (compared to learner's plans); (b) Weekly learning records; (c) Weekly activities records; and (d) Pop-up menu for Weekly activity achievement records. The Learning Activities page includes (a) Activity records for quizzes; (b) Activity records within forums; (c) Activity records for assignments; (d) Activity records for reflection journals; and (e) a Pop-up menu for Content Analysis. On the learning evaluation, students can identify (a) My current status; (b) Course results and comparisons with peers; and (c) My achievement badges.

3.2 Research Procedure and Methods

To achieve this research objective, this study was conducted according to the following prodcure. First of all, the LM-Dashboard prototype was developed to represent the critical significance of visualization strategies of MOOC dashboards to promote individual student's SRL based on design guidelines of visualizing MOOC dashboards from the learning analytics perspective in Table 2. Then, in order to empirically validate the visualization strategies and evaluate the perceived effectiveness of the LM-Dashboard prototype, the Phase I usability study was conducted to validate the visualization strategies and improving the usability of the LM-Dashboard with eight educational technology professionals. The Phase I usability study focused on validity of each visualization items and additional comments to improve the visualization strategies.

After gathering comments from the Phase I usablity study, the LM-Dashboard prototypes were revised and redesigned based on the results of the Phase I study. The Phase II usability study was conducted with the revised version of LM-Dashboard to improve student's user experience and evaluate the perceived SRL effectiveness in a iterative manner. Therefore, students as a user on the LM-Dashboard were participated in the Phase II usability study. From the user-centered design, iterative usability evaluations with both experts and users would contribute to make the final products more user-friendly [43]. Therefore, in this study, user-centered design methods were adopted to validate and improve user experience of the LM-Dashboard from both experts and user perspectives.

3.3 Participant Selection & Instruments

In the Phase I study, eight educational technology professionals were recruited. All eight participants are experts in their field with a PhD in educational technology or computer science education and have been working in educational technology sectors for more than five years. Most of them also have experiences with MOOC design and development research.

The instrument for evaluating the LM-Dashboard prototype in the phase I study was a questionnaire with the focus of the validation on the visualization strategies integrated into the MOOC dashboard for assisting learners with SRL. The questionnaire was designed to respond with the 5-point Likert scale on the validity with open and additional comments of whether each visualization items on the dashboard page can help to promote SRL. The pages on the prototype were captured and the visualization items on the page were explained based on previous studies.

In the Phase II study, students participated in the usability evaluation on the revised LM-Dashboard prototype based on the results of the expert reviews from the phase I study. Nielsen [44] found that 5 users could find more than 85% of usability problems in the design, so he recommends that multiple usability evaluations with 5 users in an iterative manner might be more effective than an usability evaluation with many participants. In this study, to achieve usability objectives of the LM-Dashboard prototype, two different evaluations with experts and users were conducted in an iterative manner and the number of the participants in the phase II study were decided as six users in an efficient way which mean that 90% of usability problems might be found according to Nielsen's [44] Graph. The consent form with the questionnaire was acquired, and a small incentive was offered to the participants.

3.4 Data Analysis

In the phase I study, the data on the quantitative validity scale were analyzed on the descriptive statistics of the mean and standard deviation. The content analysis was adopted to analyze the educational technology professional's qualitative opinions. Since the purpose of this study is to validate the design features on the visualization of the LM-Dashboard to promote SRL, the coding scheme is focused on the relationship between the visualization strategies and the effects of SRL on each feature. Therefore, the qualitative comments categorized into the visualization items on the LM-Dashboard shown in Table 3.

In the phase II study, the questionnaire with the working high-fidelity prototype was analyzed from both a quantative and a qualitative perspectives. The purpose of the phase II study focused on learners' understandability, usefulness, and usability [43] and perceived SRL effectiveness [11] [19]. Therefore, in addition to the descriptive statistics, the qualitative analysis was conducted to classify participants into perceived strengths and weaknesses of the LM-Dashboard in terms of SRL and visualization.

3.5 Reliability and Validity

The peer-review by debriefing one other as collaborative researchers was adopted for aiding qualitative verification techniques [45]. Throughout the research, collaborative researchers held in-depth discussions on the features and issues of the research process regularly. In addition, this study validated the visualization strategies integrated into the MOOC dashboard for learner-promoted SRL by triangulating data through both quantitative and qualitative study with diverse methodological approaches and with experts in the field and the MOOC users (students) [46].

3.6 Limitations

This study's limitations include the confined context as well as the small group of educational professionals and participants of the study. In fact, the context and participants are not representative of MOOC users all around the world, so these small sample groups inhibit generalizability for all MOOC users. Therefore, this study did not aim to generalize the results, but to demonstrate how the MOOC dashboard might promote SRL for users and to validate the visualization strategies (principles) and the dashboard (practice) on the MOOC environments from educational professionals and users' perspectives. In addition, future research will be discussed to develop the visualization guidelines (principles) and dashboard design strategies (practice) for the learner's SRL at the end of this paper.

4. Results

4.1 Phase I Study: Validity evaluation on the visualization strategies from experts

The results of the educational technology practitioners' responses to the five-point Likert scale on the validation of the MOOC dashboard designs based on the visualization strategies to promote SRL and the qualitative comments are presented in Table 6. First, the descriptive statistics including means (M) and standard deviations (SD) on the validation scale showed that the experts in educational technology evaluated most of visualization items that promoted SRL on the MOOC dashboard prototype, LM-Dashboard highly valid by rating more than 4.0, except for 4 items (1.2, 2.4, 2.5, 3.3).

The reasons for the low-rated 4 items can be derived from the qualitative comments. Firstly, five experts argued that social comparisons might not be very effective on the course progress feature compared to the social comparison in terms of the achievements. Furthermore, four experts also commented that the individual comparisons on the social network might not be very positive (1.2 and 3.3). They argued that it could also invade the student's private information. The comments on social comparisons from experts might have arisen from no accurate information about the criteria on how the social comparison might be calculated and who is compared on the learning analytics. In fact, experts had inquiries about accurate criteria on the x-axis and y-axis number of the graph rather than the visualization features themselves. On the learning activities page, the number difference (y-axis) between % of participation and % of efforts was ambiguous, so 5 experts said that the y-axis number should be clearer.

Secondly, most of the experts discussed that reflective activities might not be conducted as many as to be analyzed and visualized in a word-cloud (2.4, 2.5). In the current MOOC environments, it is because the reflection is not a main learning activity in which students are encouraged to complete. From this perspective, analysis also revealed that experts evaluated the information derived from the learning analytics rather than the visualization features themselves.

Most of experts presented concurring comments on the following aspects: firstly, they thought that the traffic light and digital badges might be very effective to encourage students in terms of SRL, but some of experts doubted which type of graph might be more intuitive. For instance, an expert disagreed that a radar graph might not be very informative. It can be translated that the experts are not professionals on visualization, so it seemed to be difficult for them to judge the visualization features in a professional way. Secondly, they recommended that simple information architect and design on the dashboard might be more effective and intuitive than too much information. Finally, it is noteworthy that an expert insisted that quantitative learning records on the MOOC environment are not as valuable as those on the offline learning and other online learning because massiveness and openness can lead to less rigorous evaluation from instructors.

The revisions made in LM-Dashboard prototype for Phase 1 are as follows:

* On the course progress page, the detailed information on the weekly basis such as weekly learning records and activity records is moved as a pop-up feature on the specific week clicked. Other repetitive features and data were deleted.

* On the learning activity page, the criteria on the y-axis number of each activity are shown in an intuitive way, for example, time on video clips watched, the number of posts on discussions and Q&A in terms of comparing student's individual progress to his/her plan.

* On the learning evaluation page, private information about individual comparison was encrypted.

4.2 Phase II Study: Learner's User experience and perceived SRL effectiveness evaluation

The questionnaire items to evaluate learners' experiences on the 2nd LM-Dashboard consisted of whether it is useful, understandable and usable for their SRL. The following in Table 7 presents the results of learners' ratings to survey questions on the user experience according to each visualization feature on the LM-Dashboard. The average scores are distributed from 4.00 to 4.33 which are somewhat higher. From the results, it was proven that the visualization features and information on the LM-Dashboard offered a positive learning experience.

The following results in Table 8 presents the learners' ratings to survey questions on their perceived SRL effectiveness using the LM-Dashboard. These questions consisted of seven summative evaluation items about the LM-Dashboard prototype in terms of perceived SRL effectiveness, which were developed based on previous studies [18] [19]. The average scores are distributed from 2.67 to 4.33. As shown in Table 8, three questions (Q1, Q2, Q7) rated means higher than 4.0, which means that some parts of SRL such as monitoring learning progress, evaluating learning outcomes, and managing time effectively would be improved through the LM-Dashboard experience. However, four items (Q3, Q4, Q5, Q6) had means lower than 4.0, which can be interpreted that such SRL perspectives were not handled in the LM-Dashboard. The reasons were analyzed in alignment with the findings from the qualitative comments at the end of this section.

The results from the analysis of the qualitative comments are presented in Appendix 1. The learners' feedback or comments to open-ended questions regarding evaluating user experience and perceived SRL effectiveness on LM-Dashboard were also analyzed by classifying them into perceived strengths and weaknesses of the LM-Dashboard in terms of SRL and visualization. The learners' qualitative comments on the strengths and weaknesses of the LM-Dashboard prototype support validity on some of the design guidelines for visualizing a MOOC learning dashboard to promote SRL based on learning analytics. To explain, the strengths from the results show that most learners discussed the positive impact on the design features of the LM-Dashboard prototype, regarding some aspects of their SRL improvements such as the effectiveness to monitor and evaluate their status of learning progress compared to their plans at a glance, usefulness on which part they have to study more, and a sense of accomplishment and motivation through digital badge and achievement reports.

However, from the weaknesses of the designed prototype noted by learners, the following suggestions can be made for future improvements of the visualization design guidelines on MOOC dashboards. Firstly, Learners A, C, and F pointed out that social comparison of personal scores can demotivate students to learn. They suggested that the MOOC dashboard should provide only an average score of peers or achievement level of their own step-by-step goals for SRL. In fact, the social comparison feature was one of topics which should be argued with the opposite opinions. Secondly, on the course progress page, Learner B mentioned that it would be more useful if peers reviews or comments on their postings were added. Thirdly, on the learning activities page, Learner F reported that proper instructor's tips can change from the 'attention' level to the 'excellent' level in the students' performance. Fourthly, Learners B and C required the concrete and accurate criteria for acquiring badges or gaining scores. Additionally, Learner E claimed that the clear description of the figures in graphs was needed at a glance. With regards to the overall user interface, it is suggested to eliminate complex information, increase readability, and adjust the appropriate amount of information on one page.

In summary, the results showed that most learners reported positive learning experiences on the 2nd LM-Dashboard in terms of understandability, usability, and usefulness, but they presented mixed opinions about the perceived SRL effectiveness. Learners gave high ratings on the help of managing their own learning progress, evaluating learning outcomes, and time management, but low ratings on promoting confidence to achieve their learning goals and keep their learning on track. Regarding the motivation, the average evaluation score for learners was 3.67, with a mean lower than 4.0, yet promising mean score. From the results, it can be shown that the 2nd LM-Dashboard prototype provided learners with a positive learning experience regarding monitoring their learning progress, evaluating themselves, and managing their learning time, which play a role in promoting parts of the SRL competencies [18] [19]. However, learners did not provide a confident answer about the effectiveness of keeping them on track according to their plans and achieving their goals without giving up. They thought that the information analyzed and visualized their learning data on the LM-Dashboard prototype would not be enough to promote SRL. The reasons can be also found in alignment with the qualitative analysis from the open-ended comments. Most of learners required the prescriptive tips and recommended comments based on their learning progress and status in addition to the visualization information analyzed. In this respect, the visualization information might be more helpful with prescriptions and recommendations in terms of promoting SRL.

The revised and suggested features in visualizing the LM-Dashboard prototype according to learner evaluation results in Phase II are as follows:

* On the course progress page, the prescriptive tips on the progress and recommended stage are provided to keep on proper track and succeed in learning objective. In addition, detailed information on the status and date of the assignment submission is offered. On the learning activity page, instructor advice or peer tips for motivating students whose level of learning activities is significantly lower than others are added.

* On the learning evaluation page, self-set goals or step-by-step recommended goals are presented to help students who struggle with confidence. Additionally, the fair and clear achievement criteria or terms of relevant information is offered.

* On the overall interface design, optional buttons on social comparisons and badges features as well as individual data analyzed are offered to allow learners to visualize their own selected information according to their preferences. Duplicate, repetitive or redundant information should be minimized.

The prescriptive comments on the dashboard in MOOC environments is a big research topic, so this feature is suggested, so the completed features could not be revised on our LM-Dashboard prototype.

5. Discussion and Implications

As mentioned in the earlier limitations section, the purpose of this study is not to generalize the findings, but to provide MOOC designers and professionals on learning analytics with design guidelines and visualization strategies on the MOOC dashboard to promote SRL.

Overall, as discussed in the results section, both expert and learner participants responded with a positive impact on LM-Dashboard in terms of the visualization features to promote SRL. Expert participants validated the visualization features by rating more than 4.0, except for 4 items (1.2, 2.4, 2.5, 3.3) on the 1st LM-Dashboard prototype. The four items with low ratings were revised through the 2nd LM-Dashboard prototype. Then, in the 2nd LM-Dashboard prototype, student participants evaluated that learning experiences on the visualization features were highly positive with the mean score higher than 4.0 on all three pages in terms of usefulness, understandability, and usability for their SRL.

However, the results from the perceived SRL effectiveness by student participants revealed that some of SRL aspects were not addressed through the LM-Dashboard. Learners evaluated that the visualization features might positively influenced on monitoring their learning progress and assessing their achievement with efficient time management but might not help to completing their learning goals with the persistence by solving difficulties in learning. They additionally requested prescriptive tips and recommendations to keep on track and achieve their learning objectives.

The implications from the results of this study can be discussed as follows. First of all, to make decisions on the type of graph which is more understandable and intuitive to learners was one crucial and difficult task. Depending on experts, opinions about which type of graph might be more effective on some specific visualization features were different. To explain, it was agreeable to adopt the line chart on the comparisons among two or three numbers related to student's activity plan and progress, but the slider chart was recommended instead of the traffic lights, and an expert thought that the radar chart was not informative. For the decisions on revisions of the second prototype, previous research about the visualization on the dashboard was studied. The traffic light can be utilized to emphasize an early warning to signal the status of the learners compared to a progress bar [47], so we made decisions on retaining the traffic light feature since our purpose on use of the traffic light is to give learners appropriate signals on their progress. However, we made the traffic light more varied in color from 3 steps to 5 steps to adopt the advantage of the slider chart. In terms of radar graph, Lupu-dima, Corbu, and Edelhauser [48] also argued that the type of graph shows multi-dimensional data in a more intuitive way, so it represents embodied metrics in a small space and is easily comparable with different colors layered. It was judged that the advantages of the radar chart might be attractive to learners during the first revision of the prototype, and learners from the Phase II evaluated that the radar graph was useful to look at information at a glance. From the examples, it was revealed that the visualization type and method on individual information from the learning analytics has its own characteristics and merits, so designers should make decisions on the type of visualization based on the purpose as Santos, Govaerts, Verbert, and Duval [49] emphasized and that the visualization should be linked to the intended purpose.

Secondly, opposite opinions on the social comparisons from both experts and students were discussed. Some experts argued that the purpose of the dashboard in this study is to facilitate individual student's SRL, so self-definition of goals and progress comparison is a more important than the social comparison. On the other hand, other experts agreed on the merits of the social comparison. Student participants also were divided on the positive and negative sides regarding the peer comparison feature. In fact, since this study did not conduct experimental or quantitative research, selection or generalization on a specific feature was not on the focus. Davis, Jivet, and Kizilcec [50] recently found that the social comparisons in the MOOC environments contributed to increasing student's completion rates, and Zimmerman and Campillo [19] also suggested social comparison even if the studies were done in the traditional learning environment. However, it should be carefully designed to provide an individual comparison with a specific peer group, as a learner participant suggested that the average score of the peers might be more informative than the individual score of peers. In the case of research by Davis and colleagues [50], successful group of learners and role models among peer groups were adopted to facilitate the social comparisons and give social cues in the visualization. In addition, it might be better to give accurate criteria and guidelines on how students translate the social comparison in terms of SRL. Davis and colleagues [50] developed the social comparison visualization based on the analysis of the role models and successful learners in a personalized feedback system. Therefore, our conclusion regarding the social comparison feature is to give students an option to toggle the feature on/off based on the visualization criteria from Davis and colleagues [50]. However, future in-depth research about the criteria on the selection of peers and more effective visualization for social comparison in the MOOC environments to promote SRL is suggested.

Thirdly, the effectiveness of the digital badge feature was also discussed by some of the expert and student participants. From the previous studies, Anderson and Staub [51] emphasized the merit of the badge as an authentic assessment tool of performance-based activity and Fain [52] argued that the digital badges play a role in representing student's learning experiences. In particular, Mah [53] insisted that the digital badges influenced the student's motivation, planning and retention in a positive way. In this respect, even if two experts and one learner argued the merit of the digital badge, the final prototype retained the digital badge feature based on the opposite opinions among both experts and learners as well as findings from the previous studies. Whether the digital badges are effective or not, it is more important to visualize accurate criteria on awarding the digital badges to improve the effectiveness as two student participants asked in the usability evaluation. It can be suggested to make criteria on the award and validation of the effectiveness for the digital badges in the MOOC environments. Furthermore, the personalized menu options should be developed so that students can select a specific button to make them see only their preferred information.

Fourthly, learner participants required the prescriptive comments with the visualization of the learning progress on the dashboard. They argued that intuitive visualization on their learning patterns and analysis data would be more helpful with the recommendations on their learning. There are many previous studies on learning analytics and recommendations [34], but the research contexts were different though not in MOOC environments. In fact, MOOC makes it possible to collect big data from diverse learners all over the world. In this respect, in-depth studies on the customized prescriptions and recommendations in accordance with individual learning paths or progresses based on learning analytics to promote SRL are suggested.

Finally, both experts and students required simple visualization on the important components from learning analytics without repetitive contents. They argued that vivid colored badges and many graphs analyzed in a varied way interfere with their intuitive understanding. Therefore, it can be concluded that it is more efficient and effective to present crucial features with simple and intuitive visualization on the dashboard.

6. Conclusion and Future Directions

Most dashboards fail to communicate efficiently and effectively, not because of inadequate technology (at least not primarily), but because of poorly designed implementations [54]. The LM-Dashboard prototype has informed us of how important it is to offer instructional interventions such as feedback, advice and tips as well as to collect and analyze the learning experiences of MOOCs and visualize individual learner's progress and activities in an intuitive and efficient way for the successful cycle of SRL. This study provides useful insights into the visual design of MOOC dashboards and the ways how expert validation and learner evaluation could inform continuous improvements throughout iterations. The findings on the LM-Dashboard prototype in this study can help instructional designers, system developers, and UI/UX visual designers to establish a fundamental understanding into designing a visualization dashboard in MOOC environments by offering meaningful quantitative and qualitative information from analyzed data of students' learning progress and activities intuitively and effectively. In particular, this study showed some parts of SRL competencies of learners improved through the visualization information and features on the MOOC dashboard based on learning analytics. Therefore, the results of this study can provide instructional designers, system developers, and UI/UX visual designers with the exemplary design and development process of the MOOC dashboards.

However, there are still challenges in accommodating individual preferences and characteristics of massive learners and raising a confidence to achieve learner's goal without giving up when they faced learning difficulties. In fact, the SRL includes the (meta-) cognitive, behavioral, and affective aspects of learning [55]. While self-regulated cognitions and behaviors are critically important, self-regulated affective components seem as significant in determining learners' attitudes and abilities for SRL [56] [57]. In this study, the learners' reactions to the LM-Dashboard prototype reveal somewhat low confidence or motivation persisting in their learning. Therefore, it is required to assess comments that promote students' affective SRL competencies to enhance their self-regulated emotions and motivation in accordance with their learning progress and status in addition to the visualization information.

Future studies can collect real data from the system and evaluate the user log data with completion rate by implementing a dashboard that promotes SRL based on the design implications induced from this study. MOOCs and learning analytics are well reciprocal in which learning behaviors could provide instructors, instructional designers, IT and HCI professionals, and institutional operators with a broad sense of the opportunities of personalization and prediction in educational big data [58]. The customized dashboard based on state-of-the-art AI technology in the recent future could solve the problem with individual preferences by offering the individualized interface and information on some of features which showed mixed opinions about the perceived preferences and effectiveness of social comparisons and digital badges in this study. Thus, it is more important that the dashboard be designed to promote a student's SRL based on the quantitative and qualitative data through learning analytics in a more intuitive and effective way. Research on visualizing MOOC dashboards to facilitate SRL is not limited to the field of visual/graphic design but is also found in a wide range of areas such as educational psychology, instructional design, computer science, HCI and engineering. The collaboration and interaction in these research areas are needed for its development.


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Appendix 1. The analysis results of learners' comments

Comments     Strengths                      Weaknesses

1,           * Graphs on learning           * It would be better if it
Course         achievement progress           offers proper instructors'
Progress       compared to initial plans      tips to change from the
               are useful for reflecting      risky stage to the
               and focusing on the            excellent stage,
               further study parts            especially for students
               (A, B, C, D, E, F)             with a low level of
                                              willingness or motivation
                                              of learning (F)
             * Weekly study plan            * It would be better to
               and learning status by         check when assignments are
               course index is easy to        submitted as well as
               understand and to check        whether assignments are
               the learning progress at       submitted (E)
               a glance (A, C)
2.           * It is useful to easily       * It would be more useful
Learning       monitor in-depth               if peer reviews of
Activities     information on                 postings on my discussion
               discussions (A,                are added (B)
               B, C, E)                     * Tips or comments on
             * It is useful to be able        motivating students
               to check my grades             whose level of learning
               against colleagues             activities is
               (A, B, D, E)                   significantly lower
                                              compared to other
             * Evaluation feedback            learners should be
               on quizzes, assignments        provided (C)
               and tests is very useful     * Information on the
               (A, B, C, D, E)                number of video plays and
             * Information on the             the playing time is not
               number of video plays          meaningful and comparing
               and the playing time           with others is not
               is very useful (E)             necessary (C, E)
             * It is useful to reflect      * It is questionable whether
               by comparing my own            it will motivate learning
               plans and progress (F)         by comparing the number
                                              of comments and
                                              postings of colleagues
                                              with mine (F)
3.           * It is easy and useful        * It is difficult to
Learning       to compare my learning         understand what the x-axis
Evaluation     achievements with              and y-axis of my current
               peers (A, B, C, E)             position analysis are (B,
             * Badges according to the        C)
               degree of achievement        * It is difficult to know
               are useful to check the        the criteria for receiving
               parts which student            performance badges (B, C)
               needs to study
               (A, E, F)                    * Providing only the
             * Report card with course        average score of peers
               status is useful for sense     rather than each peer's
               of accomplishment and          personal score would
               motivation (B, C,              lessen the burden (F)
               D, E, F)                     * It is likely that students
                                              will be motivated more
                                              continuously if they
                                              present their own goal
                                              or a step-by-step
                                              recommended goal rather
                                              than a relative position
                                              compared to other students
                                              (A, C)
                                            * The badge may rather cause
                                              adult learners to have
                                              side effects that rely on
                                              rewards rather than
                                              focusing on learning (E)
4.           No comment                     * Preferences could vary
Overall                                       according to learner
interface                                     characteristics (age,
design                                        gender, academic level,
                                              etc.) (F)
                                            * The amount of information
                                              presented on a screen is
                                              too much (C, E)
                                            * To attain better
                                              readability, some texts
                                              should be enlarged (A, B)
                                            * It would be nice if visual
                                              design was done with
                                              optimal page structure
                                              according to screen size
                                            * Information on the graphs
                                              should not be duplicated
                                              in texts (C, E)

Hyunjin Cha is an invited professor in School of General Education, at Dankook University in Cheonan, Republic of Korea. Dr. Cha worked for an assistant professor, Soonchunhyang University, Asan, Korea. Dr. Cha obtained a M.Sc. in Human Computer Interaction with Ergonomics from University College London, and a Ph.D. in Educational Technology from Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea. Her current research areas include Ubiquitous Teaching and Learning Environments and Human Computer Interaction in Learning Science. (82+1038636934)

Taejung Park is an assistant professor in the Division of General Studies at the College of Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, Kyonggi University in Suwon, Republic of Korea. She received her Master Degree in Multimedia English Education from Ewha Graduate School of Education, and her Ph.D. in Educational Technology from Seoul National University. Her current research interests focus on instructional design, MOOCs, AR/VR/MR, Maker-based instruction, flipped learning, and future school. (82+1022567542)

Hyun-Jin Cha (1) and Taejung Park (2)

(1) School of General Education, Dankook University 119, Dandae-ro, Dongnam-gu, Cheonan-si, Chungnam, 31116, Republic of Korea [e-mail:]

(2) College of Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, Kyonggi University 154-42, Gwanggyosan-ro, Yeongtong-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do, 16227, Republic of Korea [e-mail:]

(*) Corresponding author: Taejung Park

Received September 3, 2018; revised November 18, 2018; accepted December 22, 2018; published June 30, 2019
Table 1. SRL strategies from successful MOOC learners [27]

SRL strategies                          Example(s)

Metacognitive   Self-monitoring         Preparing summaries  and mind
strategies                              maps about what I learned.
                Self-evaluation         I used what I learned in the
                                        course back in school classes so
                                        that I could internalize what I
                Goal setting/planning   The most important thing is to
                                        have clear objectives and to be
                                        organized when accomplishing
Resource        Time                    Taking the course was
management      management              challenging because I have other
strategies                              daily duties. What helped me is
                                        devoting a specific time of the
                                        day to work on the course.
                Effort regulation       The day I started a chapter, I
                                        would also finish it.
                Help seeking            It was a great help and source
                                        of motivation to take the course
                                        with friends.
                Study                   Find some quiet time at home and
                environment             concentrate on the computer.

Table 2. Design Guidelines of visualizing MOOC learning dashboards to
promote SRL based on learning analytics [5]

Dimensions of          Design guidelines             To visualize
SRL strategies         for facilitating              guidelines of MOOC
                       SRL in MOOC                   dashboard for
                       learning environments         promoting SRL based
                                                     on learning

1. Self-evaluation     1.1. Content analysis of      To visualize
                       learner's reflections         quantitative and
                                                     information based
                                                     on the analysis of
                                                     learner's contents
                                                     from discussions,
                                                     reflections, etc.
                       1.2. Learning history         To visualize
                       compared to others            quantitative
                       (achievements, progress,      information for
                       activities, e-portfolio,      each activity on
                       etc.)                         learning progress
                                                     and achievement
                                                     To visualize
                                                     information for
                                                     comparing a
                                                     student's learning
                                                     progress and
                                                     achievement to
                                                     those of average or
                                                     good learners
                                                     To visualize
                                                     profile information
                                                     of peers on social
2. Organizing and      2.1. Learner's preferred      To visualize
transforming           content types (video          quantitative
                       clips, texts, images,         information showing
                       voices, etc.)                 student preferred
                                                     content types
                       2.2. Student's participant    To visualize
                       activity records for          quantitative
                       uploading and authoring       information such as
                       contents                      the number of
                                                     downloading, or
                                                     authoring contents
3. Goal-setting        3.1. Setting learning         To visualize
and planning           objectives and plans for      quantitative
                       effective time                information on
                       management                    learner's
                                                     achievement by
                                                     their plan and
                                                     execution of
                                                     learning activities
                                                     in a timely manner
                                                     (by day, by week,
                                                     by month)
                                                     To visualize
                                                     information on the
                                                     degree of activity
                                                     participation using
                                                     graphs each
                                                     distinguished by
                                                     color and detailed
                       3.2. Monitoring learner's     To visualize
                       plans, styles, and patterns   quantitative and
                                                     information on
                                                     students' learning
                                                     preferences and
                                                     emotions in
                                                     accordance with the
                                                     flow of learning
                                                     time (e.g., weekly)
4. Keeping             4.1. Records of student's     To visualize
records and            learning activities such      quantitative and
monitoring             as note-taking, searching,    qualitative
                       downloading, and              information on
                       printing                      weekly records of
                                                     activities such as
                                                     uploading or
                                                     learning materials
                                                     and printing
                                                     materials out
5. Rehearsing          5.1. Details about            To visualize
and                    participation in the          quantitative
memorizing             exercise, discussion,         information on the
                       homework, etc.                number of times
                                                     that students have
                                                     read and posted in
                                                     learning tasks and
6. Reviewing           6.1. Quantitative and         To visualize
records                qualitative analysis of       quantitative
                       learning exercises such as    information on the
                       quizzes, discussions and      scores of student's
                       exams for reviewing           effort, calculated
                                                     by required time
                                                     and planning time
7. Seeking             7.1. References and links     To visualize
information            referred to by learners       quantitative and
                       and others                    qualitative
                                                     information on
                                                     external learning
                                                     resources utilized
                                                     by students
8. Seeking             8.1. Q&A to overcome or       To visualize
social                 solve problems                quantitative and
assistance                                           qualitative
                                                     information on
                                                     analyzing content
                                                     of students' Q&A
9. Self-Consequences   9.1. History of               To visualize
                       certificates or credits       quantitative
                       with invested time and        information on
                       earned achievement            certification
                       scores                        history
                       9.2. Enrolled and             To visualize
                       completed rates of            quantitative
                       courses monthly or            information on
                       annually                      weekly performance
                                                     against learning
                                                     objectives of
                                                     individual student
                                                     and overall average
                                                     among learners
10. Structuring        10.1. Recommending            To visualize
personalized           courses for each learner's    quantitative
learning               level or interest             information on
environments                                         weekly, monthly and
                                                     yearly student
                       10.2. Feedback on             To visualize
                       learning success and          quantitative
                       failure appropriate for       information on the
                       individual learning styles    prescription of
                       or patterns                   learning patterns

Dimensions of          Design guidelines for         References
SRL strategies         facilitating SRL in
                       MOOC learning

1. Self-evaluation     1.1. Content analysis of      [35]
                       learner's reflections
                       1.2. Learning history         [34] [35]
                       compared to others
                       (achievements, progress,
                       activities, e-portfolio,
2. Organizing and      2.1. Learner's preferred      [34]
transforming           content types (video
                       clips, texts, images,
                       voices, etc.)
                       2.2. Student's participant    [34] [35]
                       activity records for
                       uploading and authoring
3. Goal-setting        3.1. Setting learning         [35] [36] [37]
and planning           objectives and plans for
                       effective time
                       3.2. Monitoring learner's     [5] [38] [39]
                       plans, styles, and patterns   [41]
4. Keeping             4.1. Records of student's     [36]
records and            learning activities such as
monitoring             note-taking, searching,
                       downloading, and
5. Rehearsing          5.1. Details about            [35]
and                    participation in the
memorizing             exercise, discussion,
                       homework, etc.
6. Reviewing           6.1. Quantitative and         [35]
records                qualitative analysis of
                       learning exercises such as
                       quizzes, discussions and
                       exams for reviewing
7. Seeking             7.1. References and links     [36]
information            referred to by learners
                       and others
8. Seeking             8.1. Q&A to overcome or       [36] [40] [41]
social                 solve problems
9. Self-Consequences   9.1. History of               [36] [40] [41]
                       certificates or credits
                       with invested time and
                       earned achievement
                       9.2. Enrolled and             [35] [36] [41]
                       completed rates of
                       courses monthly or
10. Structuring        10.1. Recommending            [35] [36] [39]
personalized           courses for each learner's    [41]
learning               level or interest
environments           10.2. Feedback on             [36] [40] [41]-
                       learning success and
                       failure appropriate for
                       individual learning styles
                       or patterns

Table 3. The theoretical backgrounds for the menus of the LM-Dashboard

Menu         Visualization items         Design guidelines from the
             on the LM-Dashboard         Table 2[5]

Course       Weekly learning             3.1
progress     achievement progress
             Weekly learning records     1.2, 9.2
Learning     Weekly activities records   2.2
             Weekly activities           4.1
             achievement records
             Activity records for quiz   9.1, 1.2
             Activity records            9.1, 1.2
             for forum/discussion
             Activity records            5.1, 1.2
             for assignment
             Activity records            1.2
             for reflection journal
             Content analysis            1.1
Learning     My current status           9.2
             My achievement badges       3.1, 9.1
             Course results and          9.1, 1.2
             comparison with peers

Table 4. The theoretical backgrounds for the menus of the LM-Dashboard

Menu         Visualization items         Design guidelines from the
             on the LM-Dashboard         Table 3 [5]

Course       Weekly learning             3.1
progress     achievement progress
             Weekly learning records     1.2, 9.2
Learning     Weekly activities records   2.2
             Weekly activities           4.1
             achievement records
             Activity records for quiz   9.1, 1.2
             Activity records            9.1, 1.2
             for forum/discussion
             Activity records            5.1, 1.2
             for assignment
             Activity records            1.2
             for reflection journal
             Content analysis            1.1
Learning     My current status           9.2
             My achievement              3.1, 9.1
             Course results and          9.1, 1.2
             comparison with peers

Table 5. Learners' profile

                                       MOOC learning          SRL
                                       experience             competency
ID  Job                Age     Gender  No. of     No. of
                                       enrolled   certified
                                       course     /completed

A   graduate student   20-29   M       2          -           High
B   Undergraduate      20-29   M       1          -           Mid
C   graduate student   20-29   F       1          -           Mid
D   graduate student   20-29   F       1          -           Mid
E   graduate student   30-39   F       5          2           Very High
F   graduate student   20-29   F       2          -           High

Table 6. Expert evaluation on the LM-Dashboard prototype to promote SRL

Design items                  Expert        Comments
visualized on the             evalilation
prototype the promote SRL     M      SD

              1.1             4.0    0.87   Traffic light is very
              Weekly                        effective.
              learning                      It is possible to use the
              achievement                   slider chart instead of the
              progress                      traffic light in order to
                                            represent more detailed
                                            levels of the learner's
                                            status and progress.
              1.2 Weekly      3.86   0.6    In terms of the course
              learning                      progress, the social
1.            records                       comparison might not be very
                                            useful to promote SRL.
Course        1.3 Weekly      4.0    1      It is not very meaningful
progress      activities                    simply to visualize the
page          records                       number of the activities
                                            learners participated
              1.4 Weekly      4.0    1      Radar graph (Spider
              activities                    chart) might not be very
              achievement                   informative to learners
              records                       Downloading and printing
                                            might not be very meaningful
                                            SRL activities
              1. Overall      4.0    0.87   Too much repetitive
                                            information on the
                                            visualization graph might
                                            not be very effective.
                                            It might be better to
                                            provide detailed information
                                            upon request (if the user
                                            clicked the details)
              2.1. Activity   4.25   0.66   The difference between
              records for                   % of participation and %
              quiz                          of efforts is not obvious,
                                            so the guidelines and
                                            accurate criteria to
                                            translate the visualization
                                            should be offered.
2.            2.2. Activity   4.25   0.66   The MOOC environments
Learning      records for                   usually do not provide
activities    forum                         reflection opportunities, so
              /discussion                   the information about the
                                            reflection activity might
                                            be difficult to collect.
                                            It also leads that the word
                                            cloud analysis might be very
              2.3. Activity   4.13   0.6    No Comment
              records for
              2.4 Activity    3.63   1.11   No Comment
              records for
              2.5. Content    3.88   0.78   No Comment
              2. Overall      4.13   0.78   It is better that the type
                                            of graph is consistent, for
                                            example, as a line chart,
                                            unless the different type is
                                            valuable to choose.
              3.1. My         4.5    1      No Comment
              3.2. My         4.38   0.7    The digital badges might be
              achievement                   effective, but the
              badges                        appropriate level award the
                                            digital badges might be
                                            considered since too many
                                            digital badges might not be
                                            very attractive.
3. Learning   3.3. Course     3.63   1.11   The social comparison might
Evaluation    results and                   be effective, but the
              comparison                    individual comparisons on
              with peers                    the social network need to
                                            be validated.
                                            In particular, the private
                                            information on the social
                                            comparison should be
                                            carefully considered so as
                                            not reveal sensitive user
              3. Overall      4.5    0.5    Accurate criteria about the
                                            social comparison should be

Table 7. Learners' ratings of user experience evaluation questions on
the LM-Dashboard

             Items               Learning Experience
                                 M      SD

1.1          Understandability   4.33   0.47
             Usefulness          4.33   0.75
             Usability           4.00   0.82
1.2          Understandability   4.33   0.75
Learning     Usefulness          4.00   0.82
Activities   Usability           4.17   0.69
1.3          Understandability   4.00   0.82
Learning     Usefulness          4.33   0.75
Evaluation   Usability           4.33   0.75

Table 8. Learners' ratings of perceived SRL effectiveness evaluation on
the LM-Dashboard

Items                                         Perceived SRL
                                              M      SD

1. This dashboard can help you manage and     4.33   0.75
   check your own learning process.
2. This dashboard can help you identify and   4.33   0.47
   evaluate your own learning outcomes.
3. This dashboard can help motivate and       3.67   0.75
   maintain learning motivation.
4. This dashboard can help you to have        3.33   0.94
   confidence that you will achieve
   your goals successfully in a given
   learning situation.
5. This dashboard can help you continue       2.67   0.75
   your learning without giving up even
   if you have difficulties in continuing
   your studies.
6. This dashboard help you and your           3.67   0.94
   colleagues to get assistance.
7. This dashboard can help you to use your    4.00   1.15
   limited study time efficiently.
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Article Details
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Author:Cha, Hyun-Jin; Park, Taejung
Publication:KSII Transactions on Internet and Information Systems
Geographic Code:9SOUT
Date:Jun 1, 2019
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