Free — or very inexpensive — online courses have become quite a trend in education. Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) providers currently offer thousands of courses and have enticed millions of students to enroll. The emphasis in MOOCs is often on lecture videos that students watch and learn from.

However, a study published in the Proceedings of the Second ACM Conference on Learning @ Scale shows that this central approach of MOOCs — having students watch to learn — may not be the most effective. Instead, the emphasis on interactive activities as advocated by Carnegie Mellon University’s Simon Initiative can be six times more effective in supporting student learning.

This study leveraged data from student use of the OLI Psychology course; learn more at the CMU website.