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ID: 434 - Is a massive open online course accessible and effective for everyone? Native vs non-native English speakers

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 20:15 authored by Sa Rang KimSa Rang Kim, Maree Farrow, Aidan BindoffAidan Bindoff, Jay Borchard, Kathleen DohertyKathleen Doherty

The Internet is one of the most widely used sources of information and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a rapidly growing means of education as they can offer world-class teaching and educational resources beyond geographical and social boundaries. However, the majority of MOOCs are offered in English, even those offered by non-English speaking universities. This may exclude many potential learners who do not speak the language. The current study therefore investigates how accessible and effective a MOOC is for non-native English speakers compared to native English speakers.


The data were drawn from those who enrolled for the Understanding Dementia MOOC (UDMOOC) in 2017. A total of 6,389 enrolees (age range 18-82 years; 88.4% female) from 67 countries who answered both the sign up survey and the Dementia Knowledge Assessment Scale (DKAS) were included in analyses. Dementia knowledge was measured by the DKAS pre and post the UDMOOC. Completion of the course was recorded by passing the quizzes for all modules. Logistic regression and linear multiple regression were used to examine the association of demographic characteristics, relationship with people with dementia, and dementia knowledge with the completion of the course and with the DKAS score post UDMOOC.


Native English speakers (n=5320) were older, more likely to be female, less likely to be employed, and had lower educational attainment than non-native English speakers (n=1025). Native English speakers were also more likely to have/had and care/cared for a family member or friend with dementia than non-native English speakers. Native English speakers had a significantly higher DKAS score both pre (M=33.01, SD=9.33) and post (M=44.18, SD=5.47) UDMOOC than non-native English speakers (M=31.65, SD=9.07 and M=40.70, SD=7.71 for pre and post respectively). There was no significant difference between these two groups in their likelihood of completing the UD MOOC, with a completion rate of 65.5% and 65.4% for native and non-native English speakers respectively. However, when adjusted for demographic variables, relationship with people with dementia, and dementia knowledge, native English speakers were 1.2 times less likely to complete the UDMOOC. English as a first language (β=0.19, p<0.001) was significantly associated with DKAS score post UDMOOC when adjusted for variables listed above.


Characteristics of UDMOOC enrolees who are native and non-native English speakers are significantly different. It suggests we are attracting non-native English speakers who are highly educated and living in an English-speaking country. Our findings suggest that the UDMOOC is accessible to everyone who understands English but is a more effective tool for native English speakers. This may highlight the need for translation of the course to enhance learners’ understanding and to reach additional communities and learners in need of dementia education


J.O. & J.R. Wicking Trust





Wicking Dementia Research Education Centre


International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International

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34th Virtual International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International - Hope in the age of dementia - New science. New knowledge. New solutions

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Health related to ageing

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