eLearning Innovations and Partnerships in
Science and Engineering (eLIPSE)

Peer discussion in small groups is widely recognised as a key driver of learning in both face-to-face and online learning environments. While on-campus synchronous peer learning activities like lectures, tutorials and workshops rely on students being in the same place at the same time, this is not necessarily a given for asynchronous online learning activities.

How does it work?

The tool facilitates chat-based guided small peer discussion around challenging problems or concepts. When students enter MOOCchat they are given a high-level quiz question and are asked to select the correct answer and provide written reasoning for their response. They are then allocated to a 3-person text-based chat session where they are able to view each other’s responses and discuss each other’s choices in relation to the question and concepts involved. When the session terminates, students are allowed to change their initial response and complete a survey of their experience.

Project team/Contacts
Title First Name Last Name Affiliation Role in the project Contact




School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences

Lead CI

​+61 7 3346 7848




School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering

Lead CI


      eLIPSE Software development team elipse@eait.uq.edu.au
+61 7 334 68018
Project Status

In 2014, the course coordinators for the EAIT Common First Year course “ENGG1200 Engineering Modelling and Problem Solving” collaborated with the University of California (Berkeley) to trial a real-time chat-based peer learning tool (MOOCchat) that had originally been designed for MOOCs.  Successful outcomes in terms of student learning from the 2014 trial resulted in a second trial in 2015. This trial was led by UQ using a version improved by the eLearning and Innovation Partnerships in Science and Engineering (eLIPSE) unit software development team, which ran on UQ servers.

eLIPSE has redeveloped the user interface and has added marking functionality.  Work in 2016 focused on semantic analysis to facilitate chat evaluation for markers and the MOOCchat tool was used in a small number of EAIT and Science courses.


The following resources are available for users:

Technologies Used

LTI, MongoDB, Piwik for analytics.


The MOOCchat project at UQ built on work originating from UC Berkeley’s MOOCLab, via an active collaboration of over 2 years. Partner Investigator: Professor Armando Fox, Director of MOOCLab at UC (Berkeley).

The project was initially supported by an EAIT Teaching and Learning Grant in 2016, led by Associate Professor Carl Reidsema.  Further development is being funded under a UQ Teaching Innovation Grant in 2019-2020, led by Professor Gwen Lawrie.

  • Coetzee, D., Lim, S., Fox, A., Hartmann, B., & Hearst, M. A. (2015). Structuring interactions for large-scale synchronous peer learning. In Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (pp. 1139-1152). ACM 14 - 18 March 2015.
  • Lim, S., et al. (2014). Initial experiences with small group discussions in MOOCs. Proceedings of the first ACM conference on Learning @ scale. Atlanta, Georgia, USA, ACM: 151-152, 4 - 5 March 2014.
  • Reidsema, C., Kavanagh, L., Ollila, E., Otte, S. and McCredden, J. (2016)  Exploring the quality and effectiveness of online, focused peer discussions using the MOOCchat tool, Proceedings of 27th Conference of the Australasian Association of Engineering Education (AAEE 2016), Coffs Harbour, 4 - 7 December 2016.