A Pedagogical Look at MOOCs

As a part of Open Education Week 2014, Professor Gráinne Conole and I plan to hold a webinar (details to be announced shortly; watch this space) on the topic of A Pedagogical Look at MOOCs. This webinar is not simply a University of Leicester production; it will be part of the EU-funded eMundus project, one task of which is to map out patterns of open educational partnerships between institutions around the world. An example of such a partnership would be the OER University, or a university accepting some form of credit for successful completion of a MOOC.

Our webinar will take a pedagogical look at MOOCs in the following way: first we choose 5 MOOCs, each corresponding to a primary learning approach taken in the MOOC. Then we map each MOOC against 12 dimensions identified originally by Grainne in her blog post “A New Classification for MOOCs” (and with thanks to Stephen Downes for identifying the last two dimensions (Downes, 2010)). Below is my initial attempt, having chosen only 2 MOOCs so far: the Open University Learning Design MOOC (OLDS), which I identify as constructivitst, and the original George Siemens Connectivist MOOC. Many thanks to Paul Rudman for his input on this mapping exercise as well.

One obvious question is: how does one pedagogically categorise a MOOC? Another big question: how are we defining these dimensions and what would constitute Low, Medium, or High for each one. I am interested in your views on these and other questions — please comment! I include the webinar abstract at the end of this post.


Webinar Abstract: As the number and variety of free online courses and MOOCs increases, it becomes more important to be aware of their differing pedagogical approaches. After initial attempts to categorise MOOCs as cMOOCs and xMOOCs (roughly, C for connectivist and X for EdX –style), it began to be clear that more nuanced categorisation was needed, and especially when considering the course’s primary learning approaches. Taking Conole’s 12-dimensional MOOC classification (Conole, 2013) and choosing 5 learning approaches often used in elearning (Mayes & De Freitas, 2004) (Bird & Conole, 2013), we categorise 5 MOOCs as an exploratory exercise for this webinar. Does this exercise display clues to the direction of MOOCs and free online courses in general? Are there any warning signals which we as educators should note? In the context of the eMundus project, does this classification help quality officers make decisions in open educational practice, for example about accepting credit for a completed MOOC?

Bird, T., & Conole, G. (2013). From E-Learning to M-Learning. In From E-Learning to M-Learning. Singapore. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/tbirdcymru/from-elearning-to-mlearning

Conole, G. (2013). A new classification for MOOCs. e4innovation Blog. Retrieved January 25, 2014, from http://www.e4innovation.com/?p=727

Downes, S. (2010). Fairness and equity in education. Huff Post Education.

Mayes, T., & DeFreitas, S. (2004). JISC e-Learning Models Desk Study Stage 2 : Review of e-learning theories , frameworks and models.

 Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and SCORE Research Fellow, Institute of Learning Innovation, University of Leicester


MOOCs and mobile

Among the various MOOC platforms, which really work as mobile platforms? The FutureLearn platform in the UK was meant to have been designed with mobile in mind from the start. I have not done a MOOC on FutureLearn yet, and may very well find myself factilitating or teaching one soon enough, so I would really like to know if learning through FutureLearn, or any other MOOC platform, works well via mobile devices.

Is this a picture of mobile MOOC? Photo by Ed Yourdon on Flickr

Is this a picture of mobile MOOC? Photo by Ed Yourdon on Flickr

To this end, I have created an extremely short survey — 4 questions! — to try and get a flavour of MOOC learners’ mobile experience. If you have participated in a MOOC and attempted to do so via a mobile device or two, please would you take the survey here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/53F3V2H   

I will be reporting the results of the survey next week at our Open Education Week webinar entitled New Global Open Educational Trends: Policy, Learning Design, and Mobile, on 11 March 2013 at 12.30 GMT. The Open Education Week website has details of how to join in – everyone is invited!

And I will report my survey findings on this blog as well.

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist & SCORE Research Fellow, Institute of Learning Innovation, University of Leicester

Online learning and research – sharing in South Africa

Grainne Conole surrounded by art collected and created by Paul Prinsloo of Unisa

A team from Beyond Distance is visiting Unisa in South Africa for a three-day series of workshops and seminars about research and online learning. It’s wonderful to be back here among friends in Pretoria less than a year after our last visit. The team of six of us from Leicester is split between the Pretoria and Florida campuses. A few links to the presentations that have been given so far follow:

An overview of technology-enhanced learning (Grainne Conole)

Research methodology in technology-enhanced learning (Grainne Conole)

Audio recordings: Research Methodology in TEL Part 1

and Research Methodology in TEL Part 2 (Grainne Conole)

Sharing: from research to practice (Grainne Conole)

Harnessing the power of new media for learning, teaching and research (Grainne Conole)

Audio recording: Harnessing the power of new media for learning, teaching and research part 1

Harnessing the power of new media for learning, teaching and research part 2

Going open: the implications for learning, teaching and research (Grainne Conole)

Optimising the research possibilities in online teaching and learning (Ming Nie and Gabi Witthaus)

Questions for future e-learning research: can we plug the gaps? (Ale Armellini)

New Technologies and 21st century learners and their impact on teaching and learning at Unisa (Palitha Edirisingha, Ming Nie)

Ethical considerations in learning and teaching (Palitha Edirisingha, Ming Nie)

OER-based design for learning and its impact on research (Ming Nie, Gabi Witthaus,Terese Bird)

What works and what doesn’t work in research dissemination (Terese Bird)

The twitter stream from the three-day event (using hashtag #unisa12), captured on Storify: http://storify.com/twitthaus/university-of-leicester-at-unisa-june-2012

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