Interest in Educational Data and Barriers to Data Use Among Massive Open Online Course Instructors

Maya Usher*, Arnon Hershkovitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Higher education instructors constantly rely on educational data to assess and evaluate the behavior of their students and to make informed decisions such as which content to focus on and how to best engage the students with it. Massive open online course (MOOC) platforms may assist in the data-driven instructional process, as they enable access to a wide range of educational data that is gathered automatically and continuously. Successful implementation of a data-driven instruction initiative depends highly on the support and acceptance of the instructors. Yet, our understanding of instructors’ perspectives regarding the process of data-driven instruction, especially with reference to MOOC teaching, is still limited. Hence, this study was set to characterize MOOC instructors’ interest in educational data and their perceived barriers to data use for decision-making. Taking a qualitative approach, data were collected via semi-structured interviews with higher education MOOC instructors from four public universities in Israel. Findings indicated that the instructors showed great interest mostly in data about social interactions between learners and about problems with the MOOC educational resources. The main reported barriers for using educational data for decision-making were lack of customized data, real-time access, data literacy, and institutional support. The results highlight the need to provide MOOC instructors with professional development opportunities for the proper use of educational data for skilled decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-659
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Science Education and Technology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Data-driven decision-making
  • Higher education
  • Instructor perceptions
  • Massive open online courses (MOOCs)
  • Online teaching


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