Dancing to the Beat of My Own Drums or Follow the Yellow Brick Road? Comparing an Open Library Online Learning vs. the Curated Experience: Comparing Student Outcomes

Streamed Session

Watch This Session

Brief Abstract

When learners have the opportunity to choose their learning pathway, do they achieve learning outcomes at a greater rate than a curated experience?  We compare a student-driven online learning content consumption experience to a faculty driven, curated experience.  We’ll cross apply lessons learned to create the most efficacy possible for online learning.  



Former faculty member in communication and college administrator. Currently applying those skills in the teaching and learning discipline of online learning.
Experienced higher education administrator pertaining to Admissions and Academic Advising, particularly with online environments. Currently utilizing these skills to develop, train and enhance the learning and educational experience for both educators and learners via an online platform.

Extended Abstract

The Consumption of Media Much content has been organized and published for the express use of online learning. Learning management systems are loaded with courses for colleges, K-12, and non-credit learning. The COVID pandemic has shifted even more content online. As a response to COVID, faculty and colleges are putting more of their content online in order to increase access for future semesters (or the next pandemic). We are seeing more hyflex, hybrid, and online modalities and as a result, an already large body of online learning is getting larger. In an ever-expanding “library” of content, how are learners to choose which online experiences in which to partake? The Case for Curation With so much information, learners can feel overwhelmed by their options. Like walking into a library, finding the right book without the aid of a skilled library scientist (librarian) can be a daunting task. Even in educational situations where the online experiences fall under the umbrella of the institutions, there can be a lot of “noise” surrounding which experiences in which to partake. The Hypothesis Curated information leads to better learning outcomes. To test this hypothesis, we set up two groups of learners. Each was consuming self-paced, non-credit bearing courses (MOOCs). One group was allowed to choose any course they pleased and as many as they wished. The control group was led through a curated experience on a specific timeframe with appropriate milestones. Each group was given assessments in order to measure achievement of learning outcomes. Conclusions and Impacts of Research A number of learning/training institutions have “open libraries” of content that are either accessed by a subscription model or simply by admission to the institution. Understanding the outcomes of this experiment can direct institutions as to the best way to spend resources (i.e. on a curator/coach/guide etc.) or to embrace a laissez faire approach to student consumption. This experiment will show the best way to yield greater student outcomes.