Make School is mainly an in-person school for computer science education. Coupled with a project-based education, students thrive on the social, in-real-life aspects of the program. And, the completion/success rates are very high (70%+), especially when compared to industry-reported online education completion rates (15%-20%).
When we set out to build our own online eduation platform, we decided to focus on social features versus other avenues of product like video tutorials or gamification. A global chat room with direct message capability became the primary feature of the platform besides the learning material itself.
• Break up students into groups ("Pods")
• Pod members can see each other's progress
• Enable students to ask their pod members for help (direct message)
• Chat app to include include global chat room
• 300 students paid $100 for the Online Academy.
• 71 students (or ~24%) completed all of the tutorials.
• 18 (or 6%) pushed a game to the Game Showcase page.
These seem like modest numbers, but they're actually very good in comparison to most MOOCs (where the completion rate is on average between 15%-20%). We considered this a great start for a first version.
I think the chat room achieved it's primary goal of making people feel like they were part of a community. Many student's questions were answered and conversations were had. Instructors were able to participate which gave Make School a good presence.
The chat room became a great place for user feedback. In a few days I was able to fix a number of UI/UX issues that students were having.
I think we were on the right track by splitting the students up into pods, but we fell short on mentorship/guidance. Students reported that they wanted more structure, like a weekly pod meeting with a Make School instructor.