MOOCs, openness and
changing educator practices:
an Activity Theory case study
Laura Czerniewicz, Sukaina Walji
Andrew Dea...
Context
• Global South low producers of OER
• Participate relatively minimally in open learning and
teaching
• Emerging cu...
One of first major MOOC initiatives in
Africa
Partnership with FutureLearn and
Coursera
12 MOOCS+ over 3 years
Intention f...
Question
How do educators’ practices
change when using (or not
using) OER in and as a MOOC?
Conceptual framework
• Locate educators’ practices and perceptions in context of
mediating artefacts
• Activity Theory (En...
Conceptual framework
• Activity Theory as heuristic to thickly describe
changes in educators’ practices and
perceptions
• ...
Methodology
• Case study analysis
• Insert educator ‘subjectivity’ into analysis, via:
• open-ended semi-structured interv...
Methodology
• Interviews before MOOC, immediately after, 6
months later
• Interviewees: 2 MOOC lead educators + 13 guest
e...
Findings
Tool node mediates subjects’ (lead educators)
striving toward object; we found that
educators:
1) Engaged with th...
Activity System 1
Figure 1: MOOC 1A (before
MOOC is live)
Activity system 1
Understandings of OER/Perceived role of openness
Nascent understanding of OER
• Two of 14 educators fami...
Activity system 1, themes
Understandings of OER/Perceived role of openness
Access to knowledge which is “all nicely packag...
Activity system 1, themes
Affordances of the MOOC
Tentative understandings of what MOOCs might do
“one step in the right d...
Activity system 1, themes
Reflection on educational practices
“You’ve got seven minutes to put across maybe
a whole range ...
Activity system 1, themes
Reflection on educational practices
Reflection on course design:
“[I]n terms of structure… the M...
Activity system 1, themes
Reflection on educational practices
Developing the MOOC had taught her/him
“how to start thinkin...
Activity System 2
Figure 2: MOOC 1B (after MOOC
has run)
Activity System 2
Two significant differences between the first
and second activity systems
1) MOOC and its OER components...
Activity system 2, themes
Understandings of OER/Perceived role of openness
Understanding of openness as reach and access
M...
Activity system 2, themes
Affordances of the MOOC
Participation and contribution of MOOC participants
MOOC fostered “bi-di...
Activity system 2, themes
Affordances of the MOOC
Participation and contribution of MOOC participants
As participants add ...
Activity system 2, themes
Affordances of the MOOC
Depth and quality of engagement
MOOC enables “depth of engagement” (LE2)...
Activity system 2, themes
Affordances of the MOOC
Power relations and reuse
Global accessibility, no entry requirements ma...
Activity system 2, themes
Reflection on educational practices
Focus attention on content presentation
Reconsider offering ...
Activity system 2, themes
Reflection on educational practices
Formation of learning communities
“There’s something about t...
Activity system 2, themes
Reflection on educational practices
New ideas for traditional face-to-face teaching
- Opportunit...
Concluding remarks
Activity theory useful conceptual framework for tracking
educator practices in “authentic contexts” (Po...
References
Barab, S. A., Barnett, M., Yamagata-Lynch, L., Squire, K., & Keating, T. (2002). Using activity theory to
under...
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MOOCs, openness and changing educator practices: an Activity Theory case study

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Presentation at ICDE World Conference, Sun City, South Africa. Presented by Laura Czerniewicz, Sukaina Walji
Andrew Deacon, Michael Glover.

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  • [FROM impact study proposal: ] "The University of Cape Town (UCT) will be launching its first MOOCs in early 2015. While the overarching objectives include showcasing more widely the teaching and research of the university, each of the individual MOOCs has its own targeted aims. These include the provision of open educational opportunities in disciplinary contexts that are not currently being addressed or for which a local or regional need has been ascertained. The MOOCs are being created by UCT academics in conjunction with UCT’s Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) mostly in partnership with the British-based MOOC platform FutureLearn to host the MOOCs. Some UCT academics are also producing MOOCs and open courses on EdX and other platforms under their own or other organisational banners (eg OEC).”

    From Networked Learning C submission:] "Global South institutions are low producers of open education resources (OERs) and participate minimally in open education learning. Global South institutions, moreover, have had limited capacity to develop online courses, support more flexible forms of learning, and create OERs. In response to this problem we wish to investigate whether OER adoption in African-developed MOOCs contributes to educators’ open educational practices or not.”
    From ICDE proposal: "The UCT MOOCs project is a three year programme to design and deliver 12 MOOCs. The MOOCs are being created by UCT academics in conjunction with UCT’s Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT). In addition to the design and delivery of MOOCs, the MOOC Implementation Team based at CILT is a recipient of a research grant from the Research in Open Educational Resources for Development (ROER4D) project to explore whether adopting OER in and for MOOCs leads to a transformation of educators’ teaching and learning practices. The sites of research comprise a number of UCT MOOCs, but for this proposal, we will look at the first MOOC which has already been run.
    A culture enabling openness is emerging at UCT. Some UCT staff, students and department groups across the disciplines have been making their teaching and learning resources, as well as research available freely online for many years. In addition, over the last seven years there have been several projects at UCT supporting the open agenda, starting with Open Scholarship (with its broad view of scholars at the centre of a network with others scholars, students and the community), then OERUCT and OpenUCT and most recently – the OER research project ROER4D . The university’s open content directory has provided a home for open education resources since 2010.
    During this time the university’s senior echelons have made important symbolic commitments to the open agenda with the signing of the Cape Town Open Declaration in 2008 and the Berlin Declaration in 2011.
    The UCT MOOCs project exists within this ecosystem of increasing awareness and symbolic institutional commitment to openness. While not a requirement, the UCT MOOC programme has also committed to releasing MOOC materials as OER, where possible, as part of its commitment to openness and aligned with UCT’s open agenda (The UCT Open Access Policy, adopted March 2014 ) which matches the UCT MOOCs project’s strategic goals of sharing UCT’s knowledge and scholarship. However, globally it is not a given that materials in MOOC formats are released as OER or open content, with most MOOCs on major international platforms allowing free access but materials are licenced with all rights reserved (Atenas, 2015)."
  • First major MOOC programme in Africa
    Committed to 12 MOOCs + over 3 years
    Multi –platform approach
    Academic leads are committed in principle to producing their MOOCs as Open Educational Resources (OER), with the intention for most content to be released as a form of OER
    Opportunity to test impact of this open education initiative on educators’ practices

  • Part of a broader study

    FROM Networked Learning submission: "This is a case study of educators’ practices and perceptions during and after the creation of a MOOC (massive open online course) at a prominent African university. We examine whether/how the lead educators’ practices changed with particular focus on ‘openness’ (Beetham et al 2012). We are interested in how educators engage with open education resources (OERs) and openness as part of the MOOC’s development, and how this relates to their practices and attitudes during its creation, while it is running and after it has been completed. Our research question is broadly: How do educators’ practices change or not change when using (or not using) OERs in and as a MOOC. We are interested in whether and why educators adopt OERs in their MOOCs. ”

    [Interested in whether and why educators adopt OERs in their MOOC. ]

    Explain question

  • From Networked Learning submission: "Premised on the idea that human activities are poorly understood when viewed as distinct from their context, this study adopts Engëström’s (1987) Activity Theory lens as a tool for describing human activity (or activity systems). In activity theory, the subject’s motivation and drive towards an object is not exclusively internal (subjective). Rather, motivation and the relation between the subject and the object is mediated by artefacts or nodes in the activity system (i.e., tools, rules, the community, and a division of labour). In this way the individual’s acts and mental processes are embedded within a social context. Activity systems are objected-directed systems and are distinguishable because each activity system has a discrete object (Kuutti, 1996). The unit of analysis in activity theory is the object-directed activity.

    In this view, human practices cannot be separated from their contexts (or the mediating artefacts in activity systems). As Nardi put it “what takes place in an activity system… is the context” so that “context is not just ‘out there’ ” (Nardi, 1996). Although separated analytically, in activity theory the external (rules, community, tools, division of labour) and the internal (the subject’s mind and motivation) are merged together. There is no sharp discontinuity between the subject’s practices (which are object-motivated) and the mediating artefacts – these elements of an activity system are ineluctably entwined. When subjects act towards and consider an object, their acts and motivations are always mediated (dynamically influenced) by artefacts. To examine educators’ practices, therefore, these practices are situated in activity systems. "
  • Note: “theory framed analysis” – ref


    This research is a phenomenological investigation into the perspectives and experiences of educators in the MOOC; it examines whether and how they adopt and grapple with OERs in their MOOC. Our data collection consists of open-ended individual semi-structured interviews and a post-course reflective discussion with the lead educators in the MOOC. Since activity theory is about individual activities embroiled in their contexts, interviews enable us to insert educators’ subjectivity into our descriptive investigation and get at their motivations for the object and their perceptions of and relations to mediating artefacts. The object of an activity system is the motivation for its existence, and since the subject’s motivation “drives” the activity, interviews are a suitable tool for “unpacking motives” (Hardman, 2005). In order to locate change or opportunities for change in educators’ practices, we look for manifestations of contradictions and affordances which emerge in the activity systems. We examine what contradictions or tensions emanate in incorporating (or not incorporating) OERs in the MOOC and what effect this has on their beliefs, attitudes, assumptions and practices. The activity theory lens allows us to illustrate activity systems at two time intervals.

    The activity system model enables rich descriptions of educators’ practices while engaging with the MOOC and OERs as tools entering into their activity systems. Bellamy (1996, 125) has noted that new artefacts (like tools) in an activity affect the kinds of social and individual processes which develop, but also that existing social processes in a community and the mental processes of an individual in an activity affects how a new artefact/tool is used. Our view is of the MOOC platform as a mediating tool in the activity system, following others who have used the “relatively open and anonymous” term “computer artefact” in activity theory analysis to capture a range of computer-associated tools like programs, printers, multimedia extensions etc. (Christiansen, 1996). In addition, we understand CC licenses to be tools which signal to users how property right rules structure relationships with an educational resource, through enabling permissions (thus transforming a learning resource into an OER). A MOOC, despite its name, is thus not necessarily ‘open’ in the sense of consisting of OERs, but can be if its contents are openly licensed and hosted so that they are retrievable.

    The activity theory lens thus acts as a powerful explanatory device for describing and understanding \the effects of new tools (CC licenses and the MOOC conceived broadly) entering the lead educators’ activity systems and as well as their conceptions of the tools. Activity theory also provides a way of describing how practices are dynamically influenced and mediated over time (before and after the MOOC). Evidence of contradictions emerging in particular show how practices may change or how innovation may come about."
  • Methodology from NL final submission: "This study constructs two activity systems, one before the MOOC is running and one after the MOOC has run its six week duration.
  • From Networked Learning submission: "The activity system before the MOOC went live is represented below (Figure 1). The tool node mediates the subjects’ (lead educators) striving towards the object (developing a new interdisciplinary field) and in doing so provides the possibility to perceive the role of openness, the affordances the tools provide, and also mediates educators thoughts and creates occasion for them to reflect on their educational practices."
  • This is the activity system of the MOOC before the MOOC ran but during the production process.
  • From NL final submission: "We found that educators’ understandings of OER, CC licences, and the broad open access movement was limited before the MOOC started with only two of the 14 educators involved in the MOOC who were interviewed expressing much understanding. Other conceptions of openness were more general (“that it’s free for everybody and open access”) and one of the lead educator - who expressed approval of the “broad open access movement” – noted that “I wasn’t aware until I got involved what it [the relation between MOOCs and openness] actually meant” (LE2). None of the 14 academics articulated a relationship between intellectual property copy right and CC licenses and how the latter can transform educational resources into OERs. Interviews revealed that educators did not create OERs for the MOOC (or transform the MOOC into an OER) for ideological or theoretical reasons. Despite this, the majority of interviewees were positive about the open character of the MOOC – that it was open for anyone to enrol, that it was free - and could imagine benefits which might accompany it:
  • From Networked Learning final submission: "Perceived role of openness
    As to the open character of the MOOC, educators perceived it as beneficial because it provided access to educational resources and knowledge which is ordinarily “all nicely packaged into tertiary institutions and never goes anywhere” (ML). One educator thought the MOOC could serve as “social responsiveness” to communities and the continent by offering access to anyone who wanted to access it (ML). Similarly, the MOOC was considered beneficial because it provided learners with access to academics who they would otherwise not ordinarily have access to. In large part the educators considered the access and reach aspect of the MOOC particularly positive. The connotations of openness were therefore to do with social engagement, access, reach beyond the confines of the traditional university community."
  • From Networked Learning final submission: "Affordances of the MOOC
    The lead educators (subjects) were hopeful about the potential affordances the MOOC might yield, and believed that the MOOC (tool) would be “one step in the right direction” (LE1) and could build “critical mass thinking” (LE1) and a “conversation” (LE2) about their new interdisciplinary field. For LE2 the MOOC’s accessibility represented an “opportunity” to “find new collaborations around the world”. As one of the lead educator reasoned “unless you put something out there you’re not going to create new links” (LE2). Further, one lead educator was hopeful that since the MOOC does not stipulate entry requirements, power dynamics between learners and educators might dissolve and the MOOC could act as a “sort of levelling platform” (LE2). For LE1 the creation of the MOOC constituted a tangible “archive of an idea” which s/he could use to develop their interdisciplinary field."
  • Context is that this is before the MOOC ran but during the production of it

    From Networked Learning conference final submission: "Reflection on educational practices
    The process of using the MOOC platform (tool) to create a course which would (hopefully) stimulate the development of their interdisciplinary field gave the lead educators pause to reflect upon their conventional educational practices. One lead educator was struck by the careful, premeditated preparation that was required for crafting a video in the MOOC.

    You’ve got seven minutes to put across maybe a whole range of complex ideas, you have to think about each word, each phrase, each sentence, you have to script it quite carefully, you have to engage people (LE2).

    Unaccustomed to the 7 minute video format of teaching, one lead educator scripted a telly prompt, which, although eliding some of the “spontaneity of an interaction” seemed to her/him “better than umming and aahing my way through… a precious couple of minutes” (LE2)."
  • From Networked Learning conference final submission: "In part, because of the MOOC’s format – courses structured into steps within weeks and punctuated with text, videos, quizzes, assignments, peer reviews, discussions – and because the course would be globally accessible, the educators were induced to consider new ways of structuring their educational resources and their teaching. The expected new additions to the community node (MOOC participants from around the globe) and the MOOC platform thus influenced the educators’ considerations of how they structure their teaching and educational resources. As one of the lead educators (LE1) pointed out:

    [I]n terms of structure… the MOOC, because of the framework, has given me some new skills after 20 years of doing this, to think about how to structure assignments, students’ engagement with the lectures, so that’s also been really helpful. (LE1)"
  • From Networked Learning conference final submission :"There are two significant differences between the first and second activity systems. Firstly, the MOOC and its OER components are operationalised, i.e., the course has gone live and has run its six week duration, this implies, secondly, that new participants (MOOC learners) have entered the community node of the activity system. We examine this second activity system by revisiting the themes which emerged in the first."
  • For the academics, openness for them focussed on access that MOOCs enabled. They were not talking about legal openness.
    From Networked learning conference: "Perceived role of openness
    As to the openness of the MOOC - in terms of its wide reach, accessibility, lack of entry requirements – the educators noticed a range of benefits. They were impressed by the personal and intellectual “synergies” which the MOOC enabled because of its global reach (LE1). One of the lead educators remarked that, in terms of developing a new field (the object of their activity), the MOOC was “probably far more effective” than “even the biggest conferences” where it’s “a relatively small audience that you reach” (LE2). For one lead educator the most positive aspect of the MOOC was its accompanying community of participants which saw that the course was received and reflected upon in a very wide diversity of contexts (which a university setting struggles to achieve (LE2). "
  • From Netwroked Learning final submission: "Affordances of the MOOC
    One educator noticed that the MOOC fostered learning which s/he described as “bi-directional” with “many people offering useful readings, links, poetry, Youtube clips etc.” (HM). A lead educator indicated that as the course went on, s/he
    felt more and more like a learner and less and less like a teacher. I was learning as much from people’s comments as anybody else – - I was fascinated to see the interpretations that people brought the other resources that people brought, the perspectives that they brought that enhanced what we had put out there (LE2).

    This relates to an opportunity to build up an archive of an idea, which the lead educators hoped the MOOC would facilitate. As participants engaged with the course and educational resources, and discussed ideas on the platform, one lead educator noticed that the ‘archive’ “kind of builds itself up” (LE1). "
  • From NL final submission: "The educators were surprised by the “depth of engagement” from the participants, and one lead educator noted that if s/he “could get that level of engagement from all my students it would be amazing” (LE2). The other lead educator remarked that the MOOC was able to “tap into deep reservoirs of people’s interests” in the new field (LE1). Another educator noticed that the responses were “very much akin” to the responses s/he received from conventional students and that there was certainly evidence of “thinking in the mode that a university expects” (AP). One of the lead educators was surprised the learning environment the MOOC fostered: “I see the potential of deep learning online where you never meet the participants face to face” (LE2)."
  • All affordances of the MOOC taken from NL final submission: "Affordances of the MOOC
    One educator noticed that the MOOC fostered learning which s/he described as “bi-directional” with “many people offering useful readings, links, poetry, Youtube clips etc.” (HM). A lead educator indicated that as the course went on, s/he
    felt more and more like a learner and less and less like a teacher. I was learning as much from people’s comments as anybody else – - I was fascinated to see the interpretations that people brought the other resources that people brought, the perspectives that they brought that enhanced what we had put out there (LE2).

    This relates to an opportunity to build up an archive of an idea, which the lead educators hoped the MOOC would facilitate. As participants engaged with the course and educational resources, and discussed ideas on the platform, one lead educator noticed that the ‘archive’ “kind of builds itself up” (LE1). This lead educator remarked on the “profundity of the space” for fostering a wide community, and saw it as something that one “cannot achieve in a university classroom” (LE1). The educators were surprised by the “depth of engagement” from the participants, and one lead educator noted that if s/he “could get that level of engagement from all my students it would be amazing” (LE2). The other lead educator remarked that the MOOC was able to “tap into deep reservoirs of people’s interests” in the new field (LE1). Another educator noticed that the responses were “very much akin” to the responses s/he received from conventional students and that there was certainly evidence of “thinking in the mode that a university expects” (AP). One of the lead educators was surprised the learning environment the MOOC fostered: “I see the potential of deep learning online where you never meet the participants face to face” (LE2). The open aspect, of the MOOC, insofar as it was accessible globally, free and had no entry requirements, further created a more “egalitarian” and “flat” learning environment, so that participants could engage the material and discuss it on more equal terms (LE2). One of the lead educators imagined that the MOOC’s afterlife was valuable in its potential for use in classroom teaching, generating interdisciplinary interests and “spawning new research ideas” (LE1). The one lead educator acknowledged that her/his notion of online learning “turned… around quite a lot” and was convinced that “the online space was just as deep and in some cases a lot more intimate than a classroom space, a face to face space” (LE2).

    In summary, the academics felt that the MOOC changed the relationship between educators and students, and that participants were real contributors to the extent of creating an archive. It emerged that the MOOC afforded an unexpected in-depth engagement, and indeed fostered a unique sense of community which they had not found possible in a small traditional face to face classroom. There was a sense of excitement at the prospects of the MOOC’s in-classroom applications and saw its potential to enthuse students and galvanise research ideas."
  • Content for 'Reflection on educator practices' taken from NL final submission: "Reflection on educational practices
    When the MOOC went live with its thousands of participants (MOOC students), the lead educators had occasion to consider their own educational practices. The careful crafting and structuring of the course led LE2 to reconsider giving the same lecture to undergraduates “40 times” and that s/he was “probably a bit tired by now”. The leader educator continued:

    ….whereas if I thought about it in the way we did with the MOOCs and set it up and scripted it and thought about exactly what I really want to emphasise here and what questions did I want to ask, I’d have a more engaged student response - I’m sure I would… it’s about the preparation of the material and the presentation of it (LE2).

    This lead educator considered that producing crisp, carefully thought-out videos of her/his lectures would allow for a much richer and engaged discussion with students. It was considered less effective to offer the same lecture repeatedly to students who were often fatigued from a long day and struggled to muster the requisite concentration and interest (LE2). The other educator was impressed by the formation of learning communities online and a Facebook group which was created by cancer patients who were taking the course:

    There’s something about the formation of a community, and the irony is that it seemed to have congealed in a more palpable way on the MOOC site, than it does in my face to face teaching.

    The educator was interested in using social media for teaching and said that s/he wanted to “try and see if what I’ve learnt from the MOOC, in terms of the significance of community, and really, sharing of stories, can somehow build that back into our undergraduate teaching” and was keen to use components of the MOOC course as a “springboard” for classroom teaching (LE1)."
  • Noticed that legal openness (OER) and OA did not really come up.

    From NL final submission: "Conclusion
    Activity Theory has provided a useful conceptual and analytical framework for showing how educators’ practices change over time, in historically and culturally specific contexts. Through the mediation of tools - the MOOC platform and the open content – there are indications in the period immediately post the MOOC having run, of changes in educator practices and intentions, in their appreciation of the affordances of the MOOCs and of their attitudes and understandings of openness. An extended analysis will pinpoint the disturbances and contradictions in the systems which could account for these changes, and a third round of interviews conducted long after the MOOC was completed will enable a deeper understanding of change over time."
  • MOOCs, openness and changing educator practices: an Activity Theory case study

    1. 1. MOOCs, openness and changing educator practices: an Activity Theory case study Laura Czerniewicz, Sukaina Walji Andrew Deacon, Michael Glover 14 – 16 October, ICDE, Sun City laura.czerniewicz@uct.ac.za / @czernie
    2. 2. Context • Global South low producers of OER • Participate relatively minimally in open learning and teaching • Emerging culture of enabling openness at UCT, open agenda • Cape Town Open Declaration 2008; Berlin Declaration 2011; Open Scholarship; OERUCT; OpenUCT • UCT MOOCs project (3 years, 12 MOOCs) • Grantee of ROER4D Impact Study (Sub-project 10.3) Links UCT MOOCs: http://www.cilt.uct.ac.za/cilt/moocs-project-uct ROER4D Sub-project 10.3: http://roer4d.org/sp10-3-impact-of-oer-in-and-as-moocs-in-south-africa
    3. 3. One of first major MOOC initiatives in Africa Partnership with FutureLearn and Coursera 12 MOOCS+ over 3 years Intention for OER outputs of MOOC materials First 2 MOOCs on FutureLearn platform launched and currently re-running. Medicine and the Arts: Humanising Healthcare What is a Mind? UCT MOOCs project
    4. 4. Question How do educators’ practices change when using (or not using) OER in and as a MOOC?
    5. 5. Conceptual framework • Locate educators’ practices and perceptions in context of mediating artefacts • Activity Theory (Engëström 1987) • tools, rules, community, division of labour, object • ‘Subjects’ (lead educators) strive towards ‘object’ (developing new interdisciplinary field) in an activity system • Activity systems are object- directed • Context is not just ‘out there’ (Nardi 1996) • Mental processes and acts inextricably entwined with context
    6. 6. Conceptual framework • Activity Theory as heuristic to thickly describe changes in educators’ practices and perceptions • Explanatory device to capture change and ‘contradictions’ as sites of change/adaption/innovation • Captures system in which educators strive for/consider their object • Examine effect of adding two new tools: • Creative Commons (CC) licenses • MOOC platform (broadly conceived)
    7. 7. Methodology • Case study analysis • Insert educator ‘subjectivity’ into analysis, via: • open-ended semi-structured interviews • post-MOOC reflection focus groups • Theory framed analysis • Code according to Activity Theory nodes, openness, emerging themes
    8. 8. Methodology • Interviews before MOOC, immediately after, 6 months later • Interviewees: 2 MOOC lead educators + 13 guest educators • Longitudinal (change over time) • For this analysis we examine one MOOC at two time intervals (before and immediately after)
    9. 9. Findings Tool node mediates subjects’ (lead educators) striving toward object; we found that educators: 1) Engaged with the role of OER and openness in MOOCs 2) Perceived affordances of the MOOC format 3) Reflected on educational practices in different contexts
    10. 10. Activity System 1 Figure 1: MOOC 1A (before MOOC is live)
    11. 11. Activity system 1 Understandings of OER/Perceived role of openness Nascent understanding of OER • Two of 14 educators familiar with OER or broad open movement • Understandings of openness general: “it’s free for everybody and open access” (LF) • None of the 14 academics articulated a relationship between intellectual property copy right and CC licenses and how the latter can transform educational resources into OERs. • Interviews revealed that educators did not create OER for the MOOC (or transform the MOOC into an OER) for ideological or theoretical reasons. • Majority positive about open character of MOOC
    12. 12. Activity system 1, themes Understandings of OER/Perceived role of openness Access to knowledge which is “all nicely packaged into tertiary institutions and never goes anywhere” (ML) MOOC serve as “social responsiveness” to communities and continent (ML) Access to academics Access and reach beyond conventional university setting
    13. 13. Activity system 1, themes Affordances of the MOOC Tentative understandings of what MOOCs might do “one step in the right direction” (LE1) to “build mass critical thinking” (LE1) and start a “conversation” (LE2) about their interdisciplinary field MOOC accessibility as “opportunity” to “find new collaborations around the world” (LE2) “unless you put something out there you’re not going to create new links” (LE2) Absent entry requirements, MOOC could act as “sort of levelling platform” (LE2) MOOC constitutes a tangible “archive of an idea” (LE1)
    14. 14. Activity system 1, themes Reflection on educational practices “You’ve got seven minutes to put across maybe a whole range of complex ideas, you have to think about each word, each phrase, each sentence, you have to script it quite carefully, you have to engage people” (LE2)
    15. 15. Activity system 1, themes Reflection on educational practices Reflection on course design: “[I]n terms of structure… the MOOC, because of the framework, has given me some new skills after 20 years of doing this, to think about how to structure assignments, students’ engagement with the lectures, so that’s also been really helpful.” (LE1)
    16. 16. Activity system 1, themes Reflection on educational practices Developing the MOOC had taught her/him “how to start thinking about bridging online and offline” in her/his teaching (LE1) Brought home the “significance of building an archive” which would permit global access for their new field (LE1)
    17. 17. Activity System 2 Figure 2: MOOC 1B (after MOOC has run)
    18. 18. Activity System 2 Two significant differences between the first and second activity systems 1) MOOC and its OER components are operationalised, i.e., the course has gone live and has run its six week duration 2) Thousands of new participants (MOOC learners) have entered the community node of the activity system
    19. 19. Activity system 2, themes Understandings of OER/Perceived role of openness Understanding of openness as reach and access MOOC’s global open reach enabled personal and intellectual “synergies” between participants (LE1) For developing new field, MOOC is more effective than “even the biggest conferences” where it’s a “relatively small audience that you reach” (LE2) Ideas in MOOC received and reflected in a wide diversity of contexts (which university can’t achieve) (LE2)
    20. 20. Activity system 2, themes Affordances of the MOOC Participation and contribution of MOOC participants MOOC fostered “bi-directional” learning with “many people offering useful readings, links, poetry, Youtube clips etc.” (HM) LE2: “I felt more and more like a learner and less and less like a teacher. I was learning as much from people’s comments as anybody else – - I was fascinated to see the interpretations that people brought the other resources that people brought, the perspectives that they brought that enhanced what we had put out there”
    21. 21. Activity system 2, themes Affordances of the MOOC Participation and contribution of MOOC participants As participants add content the archive “builds itself up” (LE1) “profundity of space” for fostering wide community, which one “cannot achieve in a university classroom” (LE1) MOOC was able to “tap into deep reservoirs of people’s interests” (LE1)
    22. 22. Activity system 2, themes Affordances of the MOOC Depth and quality of engagement MOOC enables “depth of engagement” (LE2) “If I could get that level of engagement from all my students it would be amazing” (LE2) “I see the potential of deep learning online where you never meet the participants face to face” (LE2). LE2 convinced that “the online space was just as deep and in some cases a lot more intimate than a classroom space, a face to face space” (LE2)
    23. 23. Activity system 2, themes Affordances of the MOOC Power relations and reuse Global accessibility, no entry requirements made learning environment more “flat” and “egalitarian” (LE2) MOOC’s afterlife: use for classroom teaching and “spawning new research ideas” (LE1)
    24. 24. Activity system 2, themes Reflection on educational practices Focus attention on content presentation Reconsider offering same lecture “40 times”, educator “probably a bit tired by now” (LE2) “whereas if I thought about it in the way we did with the MOOCs and set it up and scripted it and thought about exactly what I really want to emphasise here and what questions did I want to ask, I’d have a more engaged student response - I’m sure I would… it’s about the preparation of the material and the presentation of it” (LE2)”
    25. 25. Activity system 2, themes Reflection on educational practices Formation of learning communities “There’s something about the formation of a community, and the irony is that it seemed to have congealed in a more palpable way on the MOOC site, than it does in my face to face teaching” (LE1)
    26. 26. Activity system 2, themes Reflection on educational practices New ideas for traditional face-to-face teaching - Opportunities for social media use in face-to-face teaching “So it’s alerting you to a, kind of, a research agenda, but...and at the same time, to the possibility of a social media for teaching”. [LE1] - LE1 wanted to “try and see if what I’ve learnt from the MOOC, in terms of the significance of community, and really, sharing of stories, can somehow build that back into our undergraduate teaching”. - Use components of the MOOC as a “springboard” for classroom teaching .(LE1)
    27. 27. Concluding remarks Activity theory useful conceptual framework for tracking educator practices in “authentic contexts” (Porter 2013) AT enabled thick description of educator’s changing perceptions of • Affordances of the MOOC • The role of Openness Allows us to track educators’ reconceptualisation of face-to-face teaching and intent to change practices
    28. 28. References Barab, S. A., Barnett, M., Yamagata-Lynch, L., Squire, K., & Keating, T. (2002). Using activity theory to understand the systemic tensions characterizing a technology-rich introductory astronomy course. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 9(2), 76-107. Beetham, H., Falconer, I., McGill, L., & Littlejohn, A. (2012). JISC open practices: Briefing paper. Dippe, G. (2006). The missing teacher: Contradictions and conflicts in the experience of online learners. In Fifth International Conference on Networked Learning 2006 (pp. 8-pages). Engestrom Y 1987. Learning by expanding: An activity-theoretic approach to developmental research. Helsinki: Orienta-Konsultit Oy. Hardman, J. (2005). An exploratory case study of computer use in a primary school mathematics classroom: new technology, new pedagogy?: research: information and communication technologies. Perspectives in Education: Recearch on ICTs and Education in South Africa: Special Issue 4, 23, p-99. Murphy, E., & Manzanares, M. A. R. (2008). Contradictions between the virtual and physical high school classroom: A third‐generation Activity Theory perspective. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(6), 1061-1072. Murphy, E. & Rodriguez-Manzanares, M. (2014). Activity Theory perspectives on technology in higher education. Hershey, Pennsylvania: IGI Global. Nardi, B. A. (1996). Studying context: A comparison of activity theory, situated action models, and distributed cognition. Context and consciousness: Activity theory and human-computer interaction, 69- 102. Nelson, C. P., & Kim, M. K. (2001). Contradictions, Appropriation, and Transformation: An Activity Theory Approach to L2 Writing and Classroom Practices. Texas papers in foreign language education, 6(1), 37- 62 Peruski, L., & Mishra, P. (2004). Webs of Activity in Online Course Design and Teaching. ALT-J: Research in Learning Technology, 12(1), 37-49. Porter, D. A. (2013). Exploring the practices of educators using open educational resources (OER) in the British Columbia higher education system (Doctoral dissertation, Education: Faculty of Education).

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