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    MoodleMoot 2017: Jo’s reflections

    By Joanna Stroud, on 8 May 2017

    My first two days as Digital Education’s new Distance Learning Facilitator (hi!) were spent at the UK and Ireland edition of MoodleMoot 2017 taking place in London. Presentations ranged from the more technical aspects of Moodle implementation to reports into its more pedagogically-driven uses and impacts. My note-taking over the course of a packed conference schedule was frenzied and now, upon writing this post, occasionally unintelligible, so rather than provide a full overview I’ll reflect upon two presentations in greater detail.

    A Head Start for Online Study: Reflections on a MOOC for New Learners. Presented by Prof. Mark Brown (Dublin City University)
    This project was described by Mark as a means of supporting flexible or distance learners’ transitions into higher education. Despite an established distance learning provision, DCU’s programmes had, like many institutions, experienced higher levels of attrition than those seen with more traditional face-to-face courses. Mark reported that this is largely attributable to the diverse motivations of flexible learners and lack of support at key stages of the study life cycle. DCU thus applied for and gained funding to produce resources that would attempt to bridge these gaps and improve outcomes for flexible learners.

    DCU’s subsequent Student Success Toolbox, containing eight ‘digital readiness’ tools, and the Head Start Online course, piloted on the new Moodle MOOC platform Academy, aim to help potential flexible learners ascertain whether online higher education is right for them, how much time they have and need for study, their sources of support, and the skills they will need to be a successful online learner.

    Mark focused on the outcomes of the Head Start Online pilot course. Of the 151 users registered as part of the pilot, 37 were active after the first week and a total of 24 completed the entire course. However, Mark was keen to stress that learners were not expected to progress through the course in any strict or linear fashion, and completion/non-completion can thus be an unhelpful binary. Feedback from learners proved very positive, with the vast majority believing that they were more ready to become flexible learners, better equipped to manage their time, and more aware of the skills needed for online study after taking the course.

    More information:
    Head Start Online via Moodle Academy
    Student Success Toolbox
    Mark’s presentation from MoodleMoot

    Towards a Community of Inquiry through Moodle Discussion Forums. Presented by Sanna Parikka (University of Helsinki)
    Sanna’s presentation described her use of Moodle discussion forums to facilitate meaningful and constructive online conversations that adhere to the principles of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework theory. Use of the CoI framework defines three vital elements of any educational experience as:

    • Social presence: the ability of learners to communicate and engage in social interactions within the learning environment
    • Cognitive presence: the means by which learners can build meaning through reflection and discourse
    • Teaching presence: how we design, facilitate, and guide learners through experiences to achieve the desired learning outcomes.

    Sanna reported upon a range of approaches designed around the CoI framework, suggesting that it is possible to build social presence and give learners the chance to project their personalities online through simple ice breaker activities. Cognitive presence, meanwhile, can be developed through jigsaw learning activities. Cohorts are split into smaller groups of students who discuss and specialise in one specific topic before being redistributed evenly to new forums with specialists from each area and tasked with teaching their new group about their specialism. Teaching presence is built and threaded through each task by providing direct instruction, scaffolding understanding, facilitating discourse, and sharing personal interpretations of meaning.

    Discussion forums are often unfairly criticised, most frequently for lack of student engagement. However, Sanna’s position was that basic interaction is not enough to develop engagement and create new meaning. Her framing and examples of practice underscored the forum as a versatile, flexible means of delivering not just discussion-based tasks but collaborative exercises too.

    More information:
    The Community of Inquiry (Athabasca University)
    M08 Add new learning forums

    Reflections after UCL’s first Mooc

    By Matt Jenner, on 22 April 2016

    I wrote eight weeks ago, just before UCL’s first foray on FutureLearn went live, to share thoughts on the journey so far. By way of transparency, and [selfishly] having a justification to look back, I wanted to share some reflections after UCL’s first, and second, Moocs have finished.

    Why We Post: The Anthropology of Social Media

    After years of research Danny Miller and the team went Full Avalanche mode to ensure their research was moving into the hearts and minds of the world. After studying the Anthropology of Social Media across the globe, Danny’s idea was simple; he wanted for anyone interested to find out his team’s discoveries. About two years ago Danny explained his concept for how this would happen. What he wanted, in my mind anyway, was a pyramid of dissemination:

    Pyramid of Research Dissemination for Why We Post

    Pyramid of Research Dissemination for Why We Post

    Danny’s an ambitious researcher and he knows how to get his work out to a large and diverse audience. If you’re curious to see these outputs here are the web links to find out more:

    There’s a lot to get through and I hope that the effort spent on these outputs will be enjoyed by many as the months and years go by.

    Location of learners: A global audience

    Why We Post provided an interesting exercise to visualise the location of learners on a global map – they are a truly Earth-wide audience:

    Why We Post: Global Audience

    Why We Post: Global Audience – click the image for the live Zeemap – ~2000 entries as-of 21 April 2016

    Thanks to Zeemaps, who provide this service for free.

    It started with a very Brazilian focus due to some early publicity from a blogger in South America but then as the course started, the pins started appearing all over. It’s so exciting to see all these people, from all across the world, taking part in a simple exercise as ‘pin yourself on the map’. It should become a standard feature for all online courses, especially very international ones. Some people even put full names and addresses – if I had the budget – I’d like to send them all a postcard from Bloomsbury, London!

    Offering multiple languages // translating online courses is hard work

    Each team member in Why We Post, or the original ‘Social Media Impact Study’ research activity, was given a fieldsite where they will spend many months studying the use of social media, and the surrounding anthropological context. There was always the ambition to make the research outputs as multilingual as possible – so we ended up with the brief of making 9 courses as a part of the dissemination package. Making one online course is challenging enough but 9, in 7 languages you don’t know, is an interesting challenge.

    Turkish? Why We Post: Neden Paylaşıyoruz: Sosyal Medya Antropolojisi :)

    Turkish? Why We Post: Neden Paylaşıyoruz: Sosyal Medya Antropolojisi via UCLeXtend :)

    Firstly the plan was to build the course in FutureLearn – this would prove enough lessons-learned to equip us (disclaimer: Laura Haapio-Kirk far more than me) with a working model of the course. Once built (or mostly so) we then made a pathway of converting it into UCLeXtend – still English. Now FutureLearn and Moodle are different beasts – but we found ways through. With a little tinkering, and designing a style-guide, we converted one platform to the other (by hand, btw, and all credit to Perla Rembiszewski who worked super hard to get this done). Once the English UCLeXtend course was ready it became a template, Perla and Laura then converted it into 7 documents, all in English but with empty placeholders for the translation.

    If you imagine breaking a course down into chunks – each of these would be a row in a table. Then it gets tricky, translation is not a process, it’s an art. A translator is not an Input:Output engine, they’re a multilingual human. They have to read, interpret, learn, translate and then piece it back together. Being super organised helps a lot. The process creates mistakes and translation quality is, at best a variable, and at worst, somewhat arguable. Unless you’re paying full whack (which gets super-expensive) you’re also probably relying on good-faith and interest in the project to get to the end. Credit due to Laura who managed the whole process and barely complained about it; that’s the mark of a professional.

    Multi-language versions of Why We Post – now available

    The the course is now available in

    All via UCLeXtend and remain open for study at any time as self-paced courses / open learning resources. This makes me happy.

    Moodle is multilingual, quick reminder

    Lastly, it’s surprisingly easy to enable other languages in Moodle – people say negative things about it (shame, but I get it) but being able to just ‘turn on’ Spanish (or whichever) is quite powerful for a globally ambitious researcher who wants to share back to their hosts who gave them so much. And we’ve yet to have a support request in Spanish from a troubled user – I’m worried we’ll only be able to ask them dos cervezas, por favor if they do! But maybe a fair exchange for a password reset?

    Many Faces of Dementia – high levels of participation

    Step 2.2 from the Many Faces of Dementia - Tim Shakespeare's FutureLearn Mooc

    Step 2.2 from the Many Faces of Dementia – Tim Shakespeare’s FutureLearn Mooc

    Tim Shakespeare’s course, Many Faces of Dementia, covers rare forms of Dementia. It highlighted how powerful the FutureLearn platform can be at engaging learners. Tim has made a great course, covering Dementia in a human and scientific way. The learners must’ve appreciated this because it trumped many (many) FutureLearn courses in the level of engagement recorded. Courses usually achieve around a 20% fully participating learner statistic but the Dementia course had clocked in over 45%. This means of those who started the course 45% of them went on to completing 50%, or more, of all the steps in the course. If we can get in and see why, we’ll do what we can to share the secret – because this is really good.

    Selling certificates // income generation

    I won’t go into much detail – it’s not a large sum – but we’re planning on using the income generated for good causes. Originally I hoped to set up a fund for learners on lower incomes to apply for gifted certificates but this is actually quite tricky within university finances. Instead we’re exploring options of funding student research to enhance or report on our Mooc activity. I want to send any income generated in the right direction.

    Chatty learners & Why We Don’t Post?

    It turns out, people are not all that social on a social learning platform. Yes, there were lots of really valuable discussions and people who were commenting, replying, liking and following others were adding genuine, insightful and meaningful contributions – I have no desire to degrade or downplay this part. What’s so surprising is still how few people actually do this; a huge majority of people are not using the social functions. Many Faces of Dementia has 4 comments per learner and Why We Post had around 6. Some basic URL digging shows FutureLearn has just over 3m learners and 12m comments, so about 4 comments per learner across the site. I know some people don’t start after sign-up, but it seems that even those who do, they still don’t necessarily contribute conversationally throughout the course. Can you imagine weekly seminars where only a handful of people ever speak? (Oh, yeah – humm…)

    The numbers are not perfect and some people post a LOT (I see you ;)) but these averages seem worth scruitinising. I’d like to explore how to make a really social course, or better understand Why We Don’t Post? I don’t think Danny’s up for that one…

    Keeping courses short // Run parts if you like long ones

    Are shorter Moocs better? I don’t know the minimum or maximum length but 4 weeks, 1-2 hours per week seems good. If it’s actually 4 weeks but 3-4 hours per week, people may struggle to fit it in, and you might lose people. Better research is out there. UCL’s next course, Making Babies in the 21st Century, is six weeks – so I’m still mulling this rule over. Any longer than six weeks and I would be tempted to split the course into two parts, so people can space out the learning and fit it into their lives. Time will tell on this one, ha.

    We’re going for more

    The second round of Mooc proposals is open for anyone at UCL to submit an interest in. Initially the call is for expressions of interest in developing a MOOC to run on the FutureLearn platform at some point within the coming 12 months.

    • Briefing meeting at 1-2pm on 27 April in the Logan Hall, UCL Institute of Education.
    • Deadline for expressions of interest is 9 May.
    • Deadline for proposals is 23 May.

    The panel, chaired by the Pro Director for Teaching, Quality, and Learning Innovation will meet to decide which proposals receive central funding, with notification to teams by 6 June 2016. More information is available via the Teaching and Learning Portal.

     

    Reflections before UCL’s first Mooc

    By Matt Jenner, on 26 February 2016

    Why We Post: Anthropology of Social Media

    Why We Post: Anthropology of Social Media

    UCL’s first Mooc – Why We Post: The Anthropology of Social Media launches on Monday on FutureLearn. It’s not actually our first Mooc – it’s not even one Mooc, it’s 9! Eight other versions are simultaneously launching on UCLeXtend in the following languages: Chinese, English, Italian, Hindi, Portuguese, Spanish, Tamil and Turkish. If that’s not enough  we seem to have quite a few under the banner of UCL:

    (quite a few of these deserve title of ‘first’ – but who’s counting…)

    Extended Learning Landscape - UCL 2015

    Extended Learning Landscape – UCL 2015

    UCL is quite unique for some of these – we have multiple platforms which form a part of our Extended Learning Landscape. This maps out areas of activity such as CPD, short courses, Moocs, Public Engagement, Summer Schools (and many more) and tries to understand how we can utilise digital education / e-learning with these (and what happens when we do).

     

    Justification for Moocs

    We’ve not launched our first Mooc (apparently) but we also need to develop a mid term plan too – so we can do more. Can we justify the ones we’ve done so far? Well a strong evaluation will certainly help but we also need an answer to the most pertinent pending question:

    How much did all this cost and was it worth it? 

    It’s a really good question, one we started asking a while ago, and still the answer feels no better than educated guesswork. Internally we’re working on merging a Costing and Pricing tool (not published, sorry) and the IoE / UCL Knowledge Lab Course Resource Appraisal Modeller (CRAM) tool. The goal is to have a tool which takes the design of a Mooc and outputs a realistic cost. It’s pretty close already – but we need to feed in some localisations from our internal Costing and Pricing tool such as Estates cost, staff wages, Full Economic Costings, digital infrastructure, support etc. The real cost of all this is important. But the value? Well…

    Evaluation

    We’ve had a lot of ideas and thoughts about evaluation; what is the value of running Moocs for the university? It feels right to mention public engagement, the spirit of giving back and developing really good resources that people can enjoy. There’s the golden carrot being dangled of student recruitment but I can’t see that balancing any Profit/Loss sheets. I do not think it’s about pedagogical innovation, let’s get real here: most Moocs are still a bulk of organised expert videos and text. I don’t think this does a disservice to our Moocs, or those of others, I’d wager that people really like organised expert videos and text (YouTube and Wikipedia being stable Top 10 Global Websites hints at this). But there are other reasons – building Moocs is an new way to engage a lot of people with your topic of interest. Dilution of the common corpus of subjects is a good thing; they are open to anyone who can access them. The next logical step is subjects of fascination, niche, specialist, bespoke – all apply to the future of Moocs.

    For evaluation, some obvious things to measure are:

    • Time from people spend on developing the Mooc – we’ve got a breakdown document which tries to list each part of making / running a Mooc so we can estimate time spent.
    • Money spent on media production – this one tends to be easy
    • Registration, survey, quiz, platform usage and associated learner data
    • Feedback from course teams on their experience
    • Outcomes from running a Mooc (book chapters, conference talks, awards won, research instigated)
    • Teaching and learning augmentation (i.e. using the Mooc in a course/module/programme)
    • Developing digital learning objects which can be shared / re-used
    • Student recruitment from the Mooc
    • Pathways to impact – for research-informed Moocs (and we’re working on refining what this means)
    • How much we enjoyed the process – this does matter!

    Developing a Mooc – lessons learned

    Communication

    Designing a course for FutureLearn involves a lot of communication; both internally and to external Partners, mostly our partner manager at FutureLearn but there are others too. This is mostly a serious number of emails – 1503 (so far) to be exact. How? If I knew I’d be rich or loaded with oodles of time. It’s another new years resolution: Stop: Think: Do you really need to send / read / keep that email? Likely not! I tried to get us on Trello early, as to avoid this but I didn’t do so well and as the number of people involved grew adding all these people to a humungous Trello board just seemed, well, unlikely. Email; I shall understand you one day, but for now, I surrender.

    Making videos

    From a bystander’s viewpoint I think the course teams all enjoyed making their videos (see final evaluation point). The Why We Post team had years to make their videos in-situ from their research across the world. This is a great opportunity to capture real people in the own context; I don’t think video gets much better than this. They had permission from the outset to use the video for educational purposes (good call) and wove them right into the fabric of the course – and you can tell. Making Babies in the 21st Century has captured some of the best minds in the field of reproduction; Dan Reisel (lead educator) knows the people he wants, he’s well connected and has captured and collated experts in the field – a unique and challenging achievement. Tim Shakespeare, The Many Faces of Dementia, was keener to capture three core groups for his course: people with Dementia, their carers / family and the experts who are working to improve the lives for people with Dementia. This triangle of people makes it a rounded experience for any learner, you’ll connect with at least one of these groups. Genius.

    Also:

    • Audio matters the most – bad audio = not watching
    • Explain and show concepts – use the visual element of video to show what you mean, not a chin waggling around
    • Keep it short – it’s not an attention span issue, it’s an ideal course structuring exercise.
    • Show your face – people still want to see who’s talking at some point
    • Do not record what can be read – it’s slower to listen than it is to read, if your video cam be replaced with an article, you may want to.
    • Captions and transcripts are important – do as many as you can. Bonus: videos can then be translated.

    Using third party works

    Remains as tricky as it ever has been. Moocs are murky (commercial? educational? for-profit?) but you’ll need to ask permission for every single third-party piece of work you want to use. Best advice: try not to or be prepared to have no response! Images are the worst, it’s a challenge to find lots of great images that you’re allowed to use, and a course without images isn’t very visually compelling. Set aside some time for this.

    Designing social courses that can also be skim-read

    FutureLearn, in particular, is a socially-oriented learning platform – you’ll need to design a course around peer-to-peer discussion. Some is breaking thresholds – you’re trying to teach them something important, enabling rich discussion will help. You’re also trying to keep them engaged – so you can’t ask for a deep, thoughtful, intervention every 2 minutes. Find the balance between asking important questions – raising provocative points – and enjoying the fruits of the discussion with the reality of ‘respond if you want’ type discussion prompts.

    Connect course teams together

    While they might not hold one another’s hair when things get rough – the course teams will benefit from sharing their experiences with one another. We’ve held monthly meetings since the beginning, encouraging each team to attend and share their updates, challenges, show content, see examples from other courses and generally make it a more social experience. Some did share their dropboxes with one another – which I hadn’t expected but am enjoying the level of transparency. I am guilty of thinking at scale at the moment, so while I was guiding and pseudo ‘project-managing’ the courses, I was keen to promote independence and agency within the course teams. It’s their course, they’ll be the ones working into the night on it, I can’t have them relying on me and my dreaded inbox. The outcome is they build their own ideas and shape them in their own style; maybe we’re lucky but this is important. We do intervene at critical stages, recommending approaches and methods as appropriate.

    Plan, design and then build

    Few online learning environments make good drafting tools. We encouraged a three-stage development process:

    1. Proposals, expanded into Excel-based documents. Outlines each week, the headline for each step/component and critical elements like discussion starters.
    2. Design in documents – Word/Google Docs (whatever) – expand each week; what’s in each step. Great for editorial and refinement.
    3. Build in the platform.

    The reason for this is the outlines are usually quick to fix when there’s a glaring structural omission or error. The document-based design then means content can be written, refined and steps planned out in a loose, familiar tool. Finally the platform needs to be played with, understood and then the documents translated into real courses. It’s not a solid process and some courses had an ABC (Arena Blended Connected) Curriculum Design stage, just to be sure a storyboard of the course made sense.

    Overall

    • It’s hard work – for the course teams – you can just see they’ll underestimate the amount of time needed.
    • The value shows once you go live and people start registering, sharing early comments on the Week 0 discussion areas.
    • These courses look good and work well as examples for others, Mooc or credit-bearing blended/online courses
    • Courses don’t need to be big – 1/2 hours a week, 2-4 weeks is enough. I’d like to see more smaller Moocs
    • Integrating your Moocs into taught programmes, modules, CPD courses makes a lot of sense

    As a final observation before we go live with the first course: Why We Post: The Anthropology of Social Media, on Monday there was one thing that caught my eye early:

    Every course team leader for our Moocs is primarily a researcher and their Moocs are produced, largely, from their research activity. UCL is research intensive, so this isn’t too crazy, but we’re also running an institutional initiative the Connected Curriculum which is designed to fully integrate research and teaching. The Digital Education team is keen to see how we build e-learning into research from the outset. This leads us to a new project in UCL entitled: Pathways to Impact: Research Outputs as Digital Education (ROADE) where we’re exploring research dissemination and e-learning objects and courses origins and value. More soon on that one – but our Mooc activity has really initiated this activity.

    Coming soon – I hope – Reflections after UCL’s first Mooc 🙂 

     

    How can you teach online if you’ve never experienced learning online?

    By Matt Jenner, on 20 January 2016

    Distance Learning doesn't need to be lonely. Image Credits; By loungerie on Flikr

    Distance Learning doesn’t need to be lonely.
    Image Credit: By loungerie on Flikr

    Teaching online requires different approaches to a traditional classroom environment (as does the learning). Teachers who are not prepared or do not know what is involved in the development and implementation of an online course will result in “negative outcomes for students and faculty” (Caullar, 2002).  As Open University expert Derek Rowntree (1992) explains, most newcomers to ODL [open and distance learning] need to develop new knowledge, new skills and very often new attitudes and dispositions.  Students and staff need to be oriented to the differences in learning online and the change in role and approach for both the teacher and the learner (Palloff and Pratt, 2002). It’s recommended to provide staff development opportunities in online teaching (ibid) and that should come at a later stage, but I think a crucial step precedes it:

    How can you teach online if you’ve never experienced learning online?

    You must try it. I’d also recommend absorbing what’s around you as well  – talk colleagues already active in this space, look for existing resources and participate in relevant networking events. But crucially; join an online course, or ten, and experience it yourself.

    Learn online: Take a free course

    There is a growing range of free online courses in which you can use to experience being an online learner. The huge selection of free open courses can be searched and filtered by using Mooc aggregators such as Course TalkClass-Central and Mooc-list. UCL has a partnership with a UK-based Mooc provider FutureLearn and has a growing selection of courses. But you should explore other courses too and you should feel free to sign up for any that interest you – even if you don’t complete them (it’s OK!). Closer to home there’s also a selection of courses on UCLeXtend – UCL’s public-facing e-learning platform – which you can discover from searching the Life Learning course finder and filtering (on the left) to Format > Online and Cost > Free.

    Notable courses

    Getting started with Moodle (via UCL Moodle) provides an introduction to UCL Moodle and e-learning and provides the basic skills required to set up a course in Moodle.

    A6postcard_digital (3) (1)Blended Learning Essentials (via FutureLearn) – created in partnership with UCL and University of Leeds, this is a free online course designed to help you understand the benefits of blended learning and how to make more effective use of technology to support your learners.

    UCL Arena Digital (via UCL Moodle) – three short courses with each lasting two weeks. Each fortnight will end with a live online webinar where you can share your experiences with your colleagues on the course. Topics: multimedia, communication & assessment and feedback.

    Teaching online open course (via Brookes.ac.uk) – offered as a free mooc from Oxford Brookes University (and offered as a 10 M-Level credit option, if desired) and is an intensive introduction to supporting student learning in online environments.

    (star) Your mooc mission: try to complete one mooc. Sounds easy? Tell us how you got on in the comments section below.

    Learning from colleagues

    Venturing into the world of distance learning is a bit different to that of face to face teaching and you may want to seek guidance from those who have already trodden the ground before you. Within your department you may know colleagues who are running their own distance learning courses, there should be someone within your wider faculty or school. If not, you could look at UCL’s Prospective Student’s course finder for PGT and filter by ‘Distance Learning’ – then try contacting a course team from there. We also run regularly ‘Forum’ events (sign up to the ‘Distance Learning and Life Learning Network’ below).

    Join local networks, forums and communities

    With representation from all schools the Distance Learning and Life Learning Forum is a community of practitioners from across UCL who are all active in the area of fully online courses and blended learning for taught programmes and CPD/short courses. Or, you may want to form your own departmental, faculty or school-based distance learning groups. These may grow from the ground up, out of teaching committees or via many other ways. Regardless, if you would like UCL Digital Education or CALT to sit on these groups, do get in touch and we can come along too.

    For more information we recommend you sign up to the Distance Learning and Life Learning Forum. Note: This can only be done on the UCL network or via remote desktop/VPN.

    Connect with support teams

    Teams such as Centre for Advancing Learning and Teaching (CALT) and UCL Digital Education have trodden this ground before, and are always happy to hear your ideas, share experiences and help you design, plan, promote, develop and evaluate your distance learning courses. They will listen to your ideas and suggest others to talk to, approaches to take, resources to work through and even courses you can take online to get you started with distance learning.

    Get in touch with them from their respective websites – CALT and UCL Digital Education

    Next step

    So – ready for your mission? If you have any questions you can always contact us, or leave a comment below.

    Note: this page is an excerpt from the UCL Distance Learning wiki which contains more pages on planning, designing, building and teaching on an online course. 

     

    References:

    Cuellar, N. (2002). The transition from classroom to online teaching. Nursing Forum,37(3), 5-13. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/195001677?accountid=14511

    Palloff, R.M., Pratt, K. (2002). Lessons from the Cyberspace Classroom. 17th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from http://www.uwex.edu/disted/conference/resource_library/proceedings/01_20.pdf

    Rowntree, D. (1992). Exploring Open and Distance Learning. Kogan Page.

    Benefits of MOOCS? Some sources to chew over

    By Matt Jenner, on 11 August 2014

    You can’t get away with poor academic practice for long, so before anyone picks me up on it – here’s the original (unpublished) excerpts I had planned to write a paper on. I appreciate it’s rough (and not ready) but this is a decaying document, so in the spirit of openness, please reuse and remix as much of this as you can:

    Benefits of MOOCs?

    The hypothesis is that an institution which develops (a small number of) Moocs using a vendor using an established platform, can acquire skills and knowledge through this process which can be beneficially applied to other areas.  For instance to improve blended learning for on-campus students and also distance learning CPD courses.  This would probably only happen where an institution has integrated its technical and support staff into the Mooc development process so they acquire knowledge and skills rather than just taking a turnkey package where the institution provides the Mooc platform provider with the current content which they then convert with little involvement from the institution

     

    Pedagogy & teaching approach

    “We can use MOOCs to create a successful flipped classroom. We can use our “previous classroom time” for meaningful conversations. As Mazur and Beicher have demonstrated, this can be done even in large lectures by having students work in small groups.” Martin, F.G. (2012)

    “One of the choices made by Fox and Patterson in designing their campus course was to give students a quick introduction to their chosen software development process and tools at the start of the course. This enables students to start practicing software development after only a few hours of instruction” Pre-enrolment exercises for their on-campus students Ardis, M.A., & Henderson, P.B. (2012).

    “The bitter truth, however, is that academic pedagogy has never been very good. It is well established that a professorial soliloquy is an ineffective way of teaching. We do know what works and what does not work when it comes to teaching. Much has been written in the last few years about “active learning,” “peer learning,” “flipping the lecture,” and the like, yet much of academic teaching still consists of professors monologuing to large classes. We could undoubtedly improve our teaching, but MOOCs are not the answer to our pedagogical shortcomings.” Vardi, M. Y. (2012).

    “MITx, and all such similar initiatives, are still delivering a Learning 1.0 product in a Web 2.0 world” Butin, D.W. (2012).

    “MITx has stumbled into is the opportunity to create a never-tiring, self-regulating, self-improving system that supports learning through formative on-demand feedback. Formative “just in time” feedback (rather than summative “end of course” testing) is the holy grail for learning theorists because it turns unidirectional teaching concerned mainly with delivering knowledge into a recursive guide and springboard for learning.” Butin, D.W. (2012).

    “MITx will offer new opportunities to study how people learn best online – whether those learners are our on-campus students, university students elsewhere, or non-university learners – and how virtual communities of learners are built” Reif, L.R. (2012).

    “President Reif, then Provost Reif, announced MITx on 19 December 2011. Many are getting on board, while others remain skeptical, but one happy consequence is unquestionable: we discuss how we teach more now than ever before.” King, J., Orlin J., Verghese, G., Winston P.H. (2013).

    “Maybe the big benefit is a great chain of teaching. Instead of faculty and TAs, everyone is a TA, helping, at the low end, to teach a subject just learned, and at the high end, to provide the big picture and access to what is new and exciting.…Many say they learn a subject best when they teach it, so why not have everyone solidify their learning by teaching…Electronically facilitated, every MIT student could spend time teaching material just learned to those just learning, deepening understanding on both sides.” King, J., Orlin J., Verghese, G., Winston P.H. (2013).

    “Maybe the big benefit is the inverted / flipped classroom” King, J., Orlin J., Verghese, G., Winston P.H. (2013).

    • “Asynchronicity is a defining feature of open online learning, with implications for how we study it. Open enrolment periods and unrestricted use of course resources raise important questions for analysis and design” Ho et. al. (2014)
    • “HSPH students, for the first time this fall, have the option to take blended versions of the biostatistics and epidemiology introductory courses that are taking advantage of the existing courseware available in HarvardX, making  more  time  available  in  class  for  more  interactive  learning.  This “flipped” approach represents one way that HarvardX is encouraging experiments in online learning on campus. Reich et al (2014b).
      •  “One new innovation to bring all three groups together is the Discussion Circle. In the residential setting  facilitated  by  Professor  Nagy,  a  group  of  students  are  invited  each  week  to hold  a “fishbowl discussion” in front of the rest of the class, a mechanism to invite a smaller group of students from a large class into a more focused dialogue. These discussants are then required to act  as  provocateurs  in  a  forum  discussion  thread,  where learners from  beyond  the  college  are invited to engage in a dialogue on the issues of the week. This is one example of the ways that HarvardX can connect students in Cambridge to learners in the wider world.“ Reich et al (2014b)
      • some  of  the edX  teaching  fellows  were  current  students  in  the  Harvard  Law  School course.    One  of  the  principal  hypotheses  underlying  the  course  was  that  this  would  generate pedagogic  benefits –  most  importantly,  that  the  quality  and  durability  of  the  HLS  students’ understanding of copyright law would be enhanced by teaching the material to others. Reich et al (2014c)
      • Creating A permanent community – Several  of  the  graduates  of  the  2013  version  of  the  course  expressed  interest  in  continuing  to participate in discussions about recent developments in copyright law.  Our tentative plan is to try to satisfy their interest in two related ways.  First, we plan to invite all alumni of CopyrightX 2013  to  engage  in  the  plenary  synchronous  discussion  forum  (“the  forest”)  associated  with CopyrightX 2014.   Second, if that forum proves vibrant, we plan to continue to host it after the conclusion of the 2014 version of the course. Reich et al (2014c)

    “what happens when we take the learning elements that are created for online courses, using new technology, and bring them in to change the way teaching takes place in Harvard via the inverted or flipped classroom?” Bol, P. & Reich, J. (2014).

    • “As course development teams get more confidence in what they are doing, or as courses come into their second or third run they can question what are the most important issues they are dealing with and how can we do design research that helps us try out new pedagogies that help us explore new ideas that help us develop new tools? Another challenge is thinking about how can we design these kinds of studies that are asking how can we do ChinaX better, how can we make the teaching of Chinese culture and history better, at Harvard, among historians, at Harvard, and across the world. Bol, P. & Reich, J. (2014).
    • “We improved on the classroom experience in several ways” Mitros et. al. (2013)
    • The massive scale of the classroom has participants on-line 24/7, allowing students to ask questions and receive peer answers in almost real-time. Mitros et. al. (2013).
    • “Our Edinburgh MOOCs  offered us a route to experimentation with online delivery methods at large scale, and gave us a chance to learn lessons that might be applied elsewhere in our educational portfolio” MOOCs@Edinburgh Group (2013).
    • “One spin-off from our early engagement with MOOCs has been a lively internal debate about pedagogy, online learning and costs/benefits of university education.  Designing online courses for tens of thousands of learners has been challenging but exciting, and we intend to encourage the discussions to continue.” MOOCs@Edinburgh Group (2013).
    •  “The key opportunity for institutions is to take the concepts developed by the MOOC experiment to date and use them to improve the quality of their face-to-face and online provision, and to open up access to higher education. “Yuan, L., Powell, S., Oliver, B. (2014).
    • “MOOCs have stimulated widespread discussion around the pedagogical approaches of teaching and learning in institutions. The current dominant approach of MOOCs is very similar to established models of online distance learning and is generally based on the production of video lectures, written resources and staged e-assessments with automated feedback. However, the early MOOCs embraced the social nature of learning by valuing learners’ existing knowledge and experience in the course and using alternative pedagogical approaches and there are significant opportunities to explore this further” Yuan, L., Powell, S., Oliver, B. (2014).
    • Pedagogical innovation and level of experimentation is determined by the context, for example individual lecturers may be at very different levels of experience and expertise. Yuan, L., Powell, S., Oliver, B. (2014).
    • “notion of ‘flipped classroom’ where approaches like this can then be incorporated into existing programmes becomes an interesting possibility for innovative provision” Yuan, L., Powell, S., Oliver, B. (2014).
    •  “edX presents new opportunities for MIT students to engage in meaningful international experiences while also providing invaluable access to MIT for MITx students in 860 local communities” MIT Task Force (2013)
    • “One potential new source of revenue is the use of digital learning technologies to leverage on-campus course instruction, coupled with some form of paid certification. “MIT Task Force (2013)
    •  “Integrating a micro Open Online Course within a formal university course in parallel with the free international OERu learners significantly increases interaction and reduces attrition measured by the analysis of page views of the course materials for the duration of the course.” Davis, N., Mackintosh, W. (2013)

    “A variation on the MOOC is the “supersized” classroom. For example, John Boyer, a professor at Virginia Tech, taught an introductory course, ‘World Regions’, to 2,670 students. He allowed students to attend in-person or online, communicating via Facebook and Twitter, and he used Skype to bring in world figures to talk with the class” Mehaffy, G.L. (2012).

     

    “During MOOCs, librarians can interact directly with participants in a facilitating or coaching capacity using our skills in reference, instruction, and emerging technologies to wayfind, aggregate, filter, model, amplify, and stay present” Mahraj, K. (2012).

    “librarians can take on roles in wayfinding and filtering to support sense-making and critical thinking by commenting on participants’ blog posts that describe struggles to assess the validity of sources. Similarly, librarians can aggregate a set of posts to highlight patterns in participants’ struggles with and methods for source evaluation and synthesis” Mahraj, K. (2012).

    “Librarians can teach appropriate behavior around intellectual property by modeling the use of attribution in scholarly and creative work. While providing support as coaches or navigators, librarians can also amplify discussions around topics such as critical appraisal, personal knowledge management, intellectual property, and many other topics.” Mahraj, K. (2012).

    “MITx has the potential to “dramatically improve the productivity of education and the access to quality education worldwide, and will transform the nature of our residential learning environment.” Reif, L.R. (2012).

    “MITx offers MIT the opportunity to shatter barriers to education. Only a tiny fraction of the world’s population who are capable and motivated to learn MIT content has the privilege of attending MIT” Reif, L.R. (2012).

    6.002x is the first electronic circuits course to be taught online to tens of thousands of students. The goal of the 6.002x experiment was to explore ways to use computer assisted instruction to surpass the quality of traditional residential teaching. By providing superior on-line content delivery and assessment, we hope to both be able to educate people without access to education, and to improve residential education by allowing professors to focus on higher value tasks. Mitros et. al. (2013).

    “While there is still much debate surrounding the pros and cons of MOOCs, the value of this new development requires some fundamental re-thinking in the context of developing a wider strategy for open online learning and open education. MOOCs have been useful in bringing new ideas for developing business models and pedagogic approaches to improve the quality and accessibility of online and campus teaching and learning in higher education. Coupled with the changing environment of higher education, the disruptive effect of MOOCs will be felt significantly. Yuan, L., Powell, S., Oliver, B. (2014).

    With the maturing of MOOCs and the particular maturing of online technologies in education, institutions will need a balanced provision of online and on campus solutions in order to respond strategically to the challenges and opportunities facing higher education that will emerge in the future.” Yuan, L., Powell, S., Oliver, B. (2014).

     

    Learning materials

    • “the courseware is also being used by  students from  Harvard  College  enrolled  in  the  General  Education  course  on  campus,  and students  both  in  Cambridge  and  online  who  are  enrolled  in  the  course  through  the  Harvard Extension School. All three groups of learners have embarked together on another experiment in learning, sharing the same course materials and discussion forums. ” Reich et al (2014b)

    When asked to rate their overall experience of planning, preparing and running a MOOC as either ‘Poor’, ‘Fair’, ‘Good’, ‘Very good’ or ‘Excellent’, the majority of respondents (66%) rated their experience as ‘Good’, while the remaining 44% rated their experience as ‘Fair’ Grainger, B. (2013).

    When asked to estimate the amount of time spent preparing their MOOC before it began (excluding filming), 83% of respondents spent at least 10 hours a week in preparation, with the remainder working 5-10 hours each week on preparation Grainger, B. (2013).

    The survey also invited free text responses in order to provide further context to the course teams’ answers. The key themes coming out of these responses were the sheer workload involved in planning and developing the content,  and the resources required for video production on top of the individuals’ ‘regular’ jobs. Creating effective strategies to manage the large number of participants in the MOOC forums was also reported as a challenge. Grainger, B. (2013).

     

     

    Technology

    • “decided that partnership with an existing MOOC provider was preferable to developing an Edinburgh-own platform, it gave us greater speed to explore new educational techniques, and it provided a better opportunity for greater reach for our courses.  We also gained access to an expanding peer community of institutions which were developing these new courses” MOOCs@Edinburgh Group (2013).
    • “the greatest opportunities lay in developing online courses within a new educational environment (fully-online, open to all regardless of prior qualifications or geographical location, with no fee), and gaining outreach to new audiences” MOOCs@Edinburgh Group (2013).
    •  “reinforce our position as a leader in the use of educational technology in higher education” MOOCs@Edinburgh Group (2013).
    • MOOCs pose a set of challenges for the existing technology and the way that it is managed in that they require access to courses for large numbers of learners.
    • MOOC developments are causing institutions to re-visit online distance learning and consider how they can better use technology to reduce costs, create efficiency in their teaching operations, demonstrate value, and reach new markets Yuan, L., Powell, S., Oliver, B. (2014).

     

    Analytics

    MOOCs have provided the opportunities to learn more about what makes students more successful, then giving instructors (and the platforms themselves) the chance to nudge those students accordingly. These analytics provide information that help predict academic demand, tracking course success, preventing dropout, enabling social integration and reporting information for state, federal and accreditor purposes. For academics, analytics provide information about student success, areas of misunderstanding, levels of effort, persistence and other details about learning and online activity. Mehaffy, G.L. (2012).

    • New metrics, far beyond grades and course certification, are necessary to capture the diverse usage patterns in the data” Ho et. al. (2014)
    • Interpret findings from new enterprise Harvard convened the HarvardX Research Committee, MIT announced the Office of Digital Learning. These two bodies have been working to understand, organize, analyze, interpret, and disseminate the data that edX delivers to its founding institutions. Ho et. al. (2014)
    • Creating meaning from learning analytics “Registrants must click on the “courseware” to meet the definition of “viewed,” and they must click on half or more of the “chapters” (the primary tabs on the left, in this case, CB22X: Coming Soon, Hour 0, Hour 1…) to meet the definition of “explored.” Ho et. al. (2014)
    • Students can actively monitor their current levels of mastery and to self-pace in response. They can identify and break through misconceptions before moving on to more advanced material . Mitros et. al. (2013).
    • The platform allows for substantial data collection on testing, allowing us to incrementally and scientifically improve courses” Mitros et. al. (2013)

     

    Assessment and evaluation

    Student evaluations – how can teachers provide feedback/grades for students on a large scale without reducing quality (or resorting to fully automated or peer-graded work) Hyman, P. (2012).

    Certification – what are the rewards for completing a course, and what will entice students towards completion? Hyman, P. (2012).

    • There are opportunities for experimentation in assessment in areas such as discussion contributions to courses (like HarvardX and Edinburgh postgraduate students being involved in MOOCs) e-portfolio, peer evaluation, dependency-based certificates, and ‘badges’, institutional credit. But there are some established issues with the assessment and accreditation too. Yuan, L., Powell, S., Oliver, B. (2014).
    • Course certification rates are misleading and counterproductive indicators of the impact and potential of open online courses.“ Ho et. al. (2014)
      • Open online registration is not equivalent to enrolment in conventional courses, where traditional enrollment generally entails monetary costs, opportunity costs, and accountability. Ho et. al. (2014)
      • focusing on certification rates alone penalizes desirable activities like browsing and exploring courses, which open online courses are generally designed to support.” Ho et. al. (2014)
      • considerable differences in average demographics across courses” Ho et. al. (2014)
      • “Course exploration and certification may benefit from synchronous course schedules and the cohorts that they build. Managing asynchronicity to maintain registrant involvement regardless of enrollment date is an ongoing challenge for instructors and a fertile area for future research.  “Ho et. al. (2014)
      • micro-credential should be considered for future offerings.” Davis, N., Mackintosh, W. (2013)

     

    Business models and other areas

    “Part of the excitement around MOOCs is about their potential to change education’s cost equation—put a great course online once, and run it unattended many times. But part of the fun of the fall AI course was that Thrun and Norvig were right there with us, and that we were a large cohort of students there with them.” Martin, F.G. (2012)

    “one of the major barriers, for those who advocate the widespread use of OER and the provision of processes for obtaining formal qualifications from these studies, has been institutional concern over the challenge this presents for established business models in higher education.” Bull, D. (2012).

    “Offer a low-cost and no-frills service’ for education” Anderson, T., & McGreal, R. (2012).

    “public campuses and online systems do not adapt and move to exploit these network affordances, then it leaves a tremendous opportunity that can (and will) be filled by private, for profit entrepreneurs” Anderson, T., & McGreal, R. (2012).

    Is it fair to say that benefits from MOOCs have yet to be realised? Hyman, P. (2012 0 or link to the other three and more).

    Business models – how can this model of free education become self-sustaining? Hyman, P. (2012).

    “It is important to keep in mind that our campus residential model not only provides the best education environment to MIT students, but it is also at the heart of knowledge creation and dissemination. Without MIT, there is no MITx. Similarly, MITx is not MIT. Each offers a different educational environment and experience.” Reif, L.R. (2012).

    “MIT has the opportunity – and we feel that it has an obligation – to help preserve U.S. higher education as a public good by offering a not-for-profit option in online education. In the United States, we have dedicated public and private assets in enormous amounts to the public good of higher education” Reif, L.R. (2012).

    “maybe we are not being bold enough, if we are only discussion development around our current experiences and not thinking about the whole experience, the wider picture. What about doubling the size of UG intake, enabled by a more efficient MOOC-based teaching or creating more intensified UROP experiences.” King, J., Orlin J., Verghese, G., Winston P.H. (2013).

    • “describing MOOCs as though they are a monolithic collection of courses misses the differential usefulness and impact MOOCs may have from sector to sector.” Ho et. al. (2014)
    •  “The  substantial  enrollments  and  participation  in  these  two  courses,  which  might  be considered more of a niche subject compared to other offerings like an introduction to computer science,  suggest  that  online  courses  may  have  a  promising  role  to  play  in fulfilling  HSPH’s mission of improving health outcomes and increasing quality of life around the world.” Reich et al (2014b)

    Harvard and MIT need to learn to compete in this space.” Bol, P. & Reich, J. (2014).

    2 – “70% of people taking HarvardX courses are non-US. They have an obligation towards our civilisation and the world” Bol, P. & Reich, J. (2014).

    3 – “to improve the way we learn, and we teach” (at Harvard, and beyond) – hence the research community attached to HarvardX Bol, P. & Reich, J. (2014).

    • The research itself is of a benefit to the university, and they are in the right position to make it. Bol, P. & Reich, J. (2014).

    “the amount of effort that can be invested into a course is much greater when it can be amortized across tens of thousands”. Mitros et. al. (2013)

    students completing a MOOC have begun to enrol on University of London International Programmes’ flexible and distance learning degree pathways” Grainger, B. (2013).

    Most importantly, the understanding gained should be used to inform diversification strategies including the development of new business models and pedagogic approaches that take full advantage of digital technologies.” Yuan, L., Powell, S., Oliver, B. (2014).

    Service Disaggregation: Unbundling and Re-bundling:  If is pursued, institutions will need to identify new ways of packaging, planning and organising their courses, services and learning support activities. They can then focus on their unique disciplinary, reputational and/or geographical strengths.” Yuan, L., Powell, S., Oliver, B. (2014).

    opportunity as those institutions which re-bundle effectively may find a way to take advantage of MOOCs by incorporating them into revenue-producing degree programmes” Yuan, L., Powell, S., Oliver, B. (2014).

    “Possible strategic choices based on the purpose behind the development of a MOOC might include being defensive, Offensive, for Marketing, Enhance existing provision, Change existing provision or Financial. Yuan, L., Powell, S., Oliver, B. (2014)..

    “It is important to recognise that new and innovative products and services will require organisational changes and the development of new capabilities across the organisation’s processes, technology and people”. Yuan, L., Powell, S., Oliver, B. (2014).

    MOOCs themselves in the development of new forms of provision go beyond HEI’s existing markets. This has the potential to lead to greater choice for learners about how, when and what they study, but not necessarily to the detriment of existing providers. Yuan, L., Powell, S., Oliver, B. (2014).

    Idea Bank – a space online for members of the MIT community to share their views on the Future of MIT’s Education- https://future.mit.edu/ideabank MIT Task Force (2013)

    “The unbundling of courses, introducing modularity and adding flexibility into courses is all very interesting development. Adding a top-down approach to decompose courses into modules and a bottom-up approach to engineer a curriculum into core concepts.” MIT Task Force (2013)

    “We will need to balance our desire to not limit access with the need to create a sustainable financial model”.” MIT Task Force (2013)

    Student inclusion by encouraging spaces which are ‘open to all’ and under no auspicious banner of an elite university  Waard et al. (2014).

     

    References

    Anderson, T., & McGreal, R. (2012). Disruptive pedagogies and technologies in universities. Education, Technology and Society, 15(4), 380-389. Retrieved from http://www.ifets.info/journals/15_4/32.pdf.

    Ardis, M.A., & Henderson, P.B. (2012). Software engineering education (SEEd): Is software engineering ready for MOOCs? ACM SIGSOFT Software Engineering Notes, 37(5), 14-14.

    Bol, P. & Reich, J. (2014). HarvardX and MITx: The First Year of Open Online Courses. MITx Working Paper #1. Last accessed 17/02/14 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8Bic69fS_Q

    Bull, D. (2012). From ripple to tsunami: The possible impact of MOOCs on higher education. DE Quarterly, 2012 Spring, 10-11.

    Butin, D.W. (2012). What MIT should have done. eLearn Magazine, June 2012. Retrieved fromhttp://elearnmag.acm.org/featured.cfm?aid=2263018

    Clarke, D. (2014). EdX’s MOOCman Anant Agarwal loves hype! Blog post. Last accessed 04/02/14 from http://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/edxs-moocman-anant-agarwal-loves-hype.html

    Daniel, J. (2014). MOOC’s: What Will Be Their Legacy? Global Trends of Online Teaching and Learning. International Symposium, Open University of Japan. Last accessed 18/02/14 from http://sirjohn.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/140207-Japan-OUTX.pdf

    Davis, N., Mackintosh, W. (2013). A MOOC Prepared to Make a Difference. DEANZ Magazine.  November 2013. University of Canterbury e-Learning Lab. Last accessed 17/02/14 from http://ir.canterbury.ac.nz/bitstream/10092/8767/1/12647056_DEANZ%20Magazine%20nov13%202.pdf

    Downs, S. (2013). MOOC – Diversity and Community in Online Learning. Keynote presentation delivered to 26e Entretiens Jacques Cartier, Lyon, France. Last accessed 02/02/14 from http://www.downes.ca/presentation/331

    Grainger, B. (2013). University of London International Programmes Massive Open Online Course  (MOOC) Report 2013. Last accessed 17/02/14 from http://www.londoninternational.ac.uk/sites/default/files/documents/mooc_report-2013.pdf

    Ho, A.D., Reich, J., Nesterko, S., Seaton, D.T., Mullaney, T., Waldo, J., & Chuang, I. (2014). HarvardX and MITx: The first year of open online courses (HarvardX Working Paper No. 1). http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2381263

    Hyman, P. (2012). In the year of disruptive education. Communications of the ACM, 55(12), 20-22.

    King, J., Orlin J., Verghese, G., Winston P.H. (2013). Editorial: What’s next with MITx. MIT Faculty Newsletter, Vol XXV, No. 4, March / April 2013.Last accessed 17/02/14 from http://web.mit.edu/fnl/volume/254/editorial.html

    Martin, F.G. (2012). Will massive open online courses change how we teach? Communications of the ACM, 55(8), 26-28. Retrieved from http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2240246

    Mahraj, K. (2012). Using information expertise to enhance massive open online courses. Public Services Quarterly, 8(4), 359-368.

    Mehaffy, G.L. (2012). Challenge and change. EDUCAUSE Review, September/October 2012, 25-41. Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM1252.pdf

    MIT Task Force (2013). Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education: Preliminary Report. Future of MIT Education. Last accessed 17/02/14 from https://future.mit.edu/preliminary-report

    Mitros, P.F., Afridi, K.K., Sussman, G.J., Terman, C.J., White J.K., Fischer, L. and Agarwal A. (2013). Teaching Electronic Circuits Online: Lessons from MITx’s 6.002x on edX. IEEE 19 May 2013

    MOOCs@Edinburgh Group (2013). MOOCs @ Edinburgh 2013: Report #1. Last accessed 17/02/14 from http://hdl.handle.net/1842/6683

    Price, E. (2013). Quality Assurance for Massive Online Open Courses. Last accessed 20/02/14 from http://www.londoninternational.ac.uk/sites/default/files/governance/qasl24/qasl24_3-mooc-qa.pdf

    Reif, L.R. (2012). MITx: MIT’s Vision for Online Learning. MIT Faculty Newsletter, Vol. XXIV, No. 3, Jan/Feb 2012. Last accessed 17/02/2014 from http://web.mit.edu/fnl/volume/243/reif.html

    Reich, J., Emanuel, J., Nesterko, S., Seaton, D.T., Mullaney, T., Waldo, J., Chuang, I., & Ho, A.D. (2014a). HeroesX: The Ancient Greek Hero: Spring 2013 course report (HarvardX Working Paper No. 3).

    Reich, J., Nesterko, S., Seaton, D.T., Mullaney, T., Waldo, J., Chuang, I., & Ho, A.D. (2014b). Health in Numbers and Human Health and Global Environmental Change: 2012-2013 Harvard School of Public Health course reports (HarvardX Working Paper Series No. 2).

    Reich, J., Nesterko, S., Seaton, D.T., Mullaney, T., Waldo, J., Chuang, I., & Ho, A.D. (2014c). JusticeX: Spring 2013 course report (HarvardX Working Paper Series No. 4).

    Vardi, M. Y. (2012). Will MOOCs destroy academia? Communications of the ACM, 55(11). Retrieved from http://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2012/11/156587-will-moocs-destroy-academia/fulltext

    Waard, I., Gallagher, M.S., Zelezny-Green, R., Czerniewicz, L., Downs, S., Kukulska-Hulme, A., Willems, J. (2014). Challenges for conceptualising EU MOOC for vulnerable learner groups. Proceedings of the European MOOCs Stakeholders Summit 2014. Last accessed 18/02/14 from http://www.emoocs2014.eu/sites/default/files/Proceedings-Moocs-Summit-2014.pdf

    Yuan, L., Powell, S., Oliver, B. (2014). Beyond MOOCs: Sustainable Online Learning in Institutions. CETIS Publications. Last accessed 17/02/14 from http://publications.cetis.ac.uk/2014/898

    Benefits of MOOCS? More science needed!

    By Matt Jenner, on 11 August 2014

    Nearly six months ago I blogged about the benefits of MOOCs. I broadly categorised them into six main themes, each with six sub-themes. I’ve yet to see any contrasting work in this area so I’ll be flagrantly rude enough to say this is the most comprehensive list in the existence of all human knowledge. If that’s not enough to provoke a response, don’t worry, I’ve got more wild claims to come.

    ALT MOOC SIG

    What? The Association of Learning Technology, Massive Open Online Course, Special Interest Group, met at UCL for their second session in June 20114, around 80-100 people turned up to discuss the latest and most important areas in the field of ‘MOOCs’. During this day many talkers relieved me from concerns my list of 36 was going to be torn apart. Firstly, the talks mentioned some key areas that I felt were already ‘covered’ in the themes, the most cited were:

    • engagement;
    • enriched resources (like rich media);
    • public engagement / widening participation;
    • OER / open educational resources.

    Secondly, I was foolish enough to let people physically tear my list apart – it was printed, put up on boards and with pens dangled from strings a welcome invitation was left to add/edit/destroy whatever was missing/incorrect/hideous. We had some of the most provocative and innovative thinkers in this space in the world. So, without making a second grandiose claim, I felt like it was ratified, a bit. Or they were suitably distracted with good networking and yummy sandwiches, as I set this part as a lunchtime task!

    Benefits of MOOCs? Add yours!

    And then we did some science.

    I was graced with the last session of the day, which means everyone is awake, the technology is working and nothing can fail. *sigh*.

    1. The technology let me down (blame the user; I made multiple mistakes)
    2. We had halved; with a head-count down to 41 people.

    The original data (six themes, 36 sub-themes) was derived from researching 27 papers on the topic of MOOCs from the experiences of people who’s been active in this area. References for benefits of MOOCS – some academic nuggests and references.

    The design of my session was simple, in theory:

    1. Present each theme
    2. Ask audience for some demographic data
    3. Audience votes for a single ‘top runner’ sub-theme per theme
    4. Six sub-themes, one for each theme, end up as the collective ‘best benefits of running MOOCs’
    5. Profit (somehow).

    This didn’t go quite to plan, and if you feel like some light relief, here’s a somewhat comedic approach to science, where the presenter (hi!) makes a fool of himself for 25 minutes while trying to interact with the audience.

    But the results are amazing. In spit of the pain; here’s some data to chew on:

    Benefits of MOOCs?

    Reputation

    Reputation – Outreach takes the lead as Encouraging engagement and Marketing gains seem like close runners. No-one does this for Alumni or Media coverage?

    Innovation

    Innovation – Creating new capabilities knocks the socks off the others. But we had the most technological failure on this part. Needs more science.

    Delivery

    Delivery – Widening participation and going Beyond traditional markets are clearly the front runners here, but the others are not too far behind. Translation, however, is not a benefit of MOOCS? That might change.

    Service improvement

    Service improvement – Pedagogical experimentation and Encouraging open education lead the way here, but perhaps in the future this might change? Or our term of ‘Service Improvement’ is too Blue Chip for you all! (Sorry)

    Student outcomes

    Student outcomes – hurrah, an even mix. This says a lot about the initial benefits of MOOCs, or at least we’re hoping that students are gaining something.

    Others

    Others – anything we missed on the boards was included here, so the numbers are higher, but they can be incorporated along the way.

    Conclusion (so far)

    It would seem, at this stage, that the top six benefits of running a MOOC are:

    • Gain further outreach into demographics, cultures or locations. 
    • Creating new capabilities for teaching and learning.
    • Widen participation with a larger cohort than traditionally reached
    • Improve services, of offerings, via the opportunities of pedagogical experimentation 
    • Raise digital literacy up the agenda, or pave some way to making some kind of improvement(?)
    • For the offering of taster courses, perhaps with a view to sampling university life or what it means to study at a particular institution.

    But this isn’t enough – we need to get more people answering, increase the number of contributions and ascertain what are the true benefits of MOOCs.

    Take part – become a statistic!

    It’s not every day you get to be a statistically relevant being, make your mark and contribute to our poll. This will increase out small data set and ensure we’re working with the best data possible.


    Leaving note:

    I have original paper with many citations etc which started all this work – I’ll publish it separately.

    Data junkies: