Eleni Zazani surveyed participants in the E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC on their information seeking habits, looking to see if they follow footnotes for further information, and what they do when that information is not openly accessible.
The survey found that more than half of the respondents did pursue further information through footnotes, and nearly three quarters had access to licensed library resources. Another poll taken in the same course found that over 60% of the participants had post graduate degrees.
Given the topic of the course, I would expect that most of the participants would be part of the education field, mainly in higher ed. The numbers seem to bear this out, since so many have access to subscribed content. This matches my observations of many of the early MOOCs (sometimes referred to as cMOOCs) that I had joined.
The fact that people are mining footnotes for further resources also suggests an academic bent. That kind of initiative appears rare at the undergraduate level, as suggested by a recent study by Project Information Literacy. Another observation I had made early on in my MOOC adventures was that active participation in the aggregate-remix-repurpose-feedforward nature of MOOCs required well developed information skills.
Even among the survey responses from participants without access to subscribed content, I see information skills at work. One person spoke of regularly collecting, organizing and synthesizing information. Another used Google Scholar to track down authors’ works. All spoke of varied search techniques. The conclusions observe that:
a significant percentage of the participants are experienced learners with a high level of educational qualifications
This matches my own thinking: The people most likely to benefit from this format are highly-motivated self-directed learners.