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MOOC pedagogy supporting postgraduate study

Part of a FutureLearn Academic Network (FLAN) panel at the ALT conference in Edinburgh, 4 September 2019.
Over the last few years, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have had a huge impact on the scale of higher education teaching and learning globally. In 2018, 101 million MOOC learners participated in 11,000+ courses created by over 900 universities in partnerships with dozens of platform providers (Shah 2018). Higher Education institutions are using MOOCs to innovate, experiment with and strategise the future of online learning (Ferguson et al. 2016), (Fox 2016), (Hollands & Tirthali 2014).

The FutureLearn Academic Network (FLAN) connects staff involved with MOOCs at FutureLearn partner institutions, enabling them to share research and explore shared research opportunities. Understanding the impact of MOOCs on learning and learners is one of 12 priority areas recently identified by FLAN members as needing more research (FLAN 2019).

In this panel session, three FLAN members will share their research and lessons learnt from using MOOCs to widen the impact of teaching and learning on specific groups of learners and learning communities: bringing together experts and learners from around the world for citizen science activities for learning, using the FutureLearn approach to digital pedagogy – conversational learning – to support teaching and learning on international, closed and formally accredited courses, and reaching across traditional professional training boundaries to those who otherwise be unlikely to be able to participate in new approaches to team-based training.

• Professor Eileen Scanlon, Open University. Citizen science platforms at the Open University such as nQuire and iSpot have been used in FutureLearn. I will contribute a perspective on the role that such activities contribute to learning science.
• Professor Rebecca Ferguson, Open University. A discussion of the use of conversational learning on an international closed and formally accredited FutureLearn course. The course includes work around Sustainable Development Goal 4 to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
• Dr Daksha Patel & Dr Astrid Leck, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. This talk will discuss the design of a FutureLearn MOOC aimed at addressing the global health challenge of trachoma elimination, and an evaluation – using Wenger et al.’s (2011) Value Creation Framework – of its impact on practice for trachoma elimination in endemic countries.

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MOOC pedagogy supporting postgraduate study

  1. 1. MOOC pedagogy supporting postgraduate study Rebecca Ferguson The Open University
  2. 2. Extensive, open, international conversations Learning through conversation is more than an exchange of knowledge – it is a self-regulating process in which intelligent organisms employ a mutually evolving language to share and negotiate differences in understanding, with the aim of constructing new knowledge and reaching agreements. Sharples, M., & Ferguson, R. (2019). Pedagogy-informed design of conversational learning at scale. ECTEL 2019
  3. 3. Conversation • 27 study weeks so far, plus three break weeks • 99 learners and eight tutors • 16,706 comments • 1,250,294 words (yesterday) Advice to tutors Respond to each student = 99 Respond to one comment in 20 = 835 934 responses / 8 tutors = 117 each Equivalent to 4–5 responses per tutor per study week 1,250,294 words 1,971 URLs Making use of conversation
  4. 4. Navigating discussions Unless an activity asks students to take a different approach, we recommend that: • They follow their tutor and members of their Tutor Group. • They personalise their image and profile. • They read the most recent comments, including any that have been ‘pinned’ to the top of the discussion by one of the tutors. • They ‘like’ or ‘bookmark’ some of these comments, if appropriate. • They then use the ‘Most liked’ filter to take them straight to the comments that others have found most valuable. • They contribute to the discussion at least twice a week, prioritising the occasions when they’re asked to do this as part of an activity. Pedagogy Advice in Module Guide
  5. 5. Making use of scale Participation 99 students 344 comments
  6. 6. Sharing resources: images of learning Conversation Picture links in Using education to achieve goals, and to pass knowledge and values to the next generation The complex path to learning Fitting online learning around other responsibilities. Any time, any place, anywhere98 images
  7. 7. Making use of international reach Conversation
  8. 8. Using ‘likes’ to build ranked lists Conversation 148 contributions, covering citizen science in countries including China, Nigeria, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Tibet, UAE, UK, and Zambia.
  9. 9. Opening up discussion Open • 1689 MOOC learners • Four weeks • 342 (20%) posted at least one comment • 3,867 comments
  10. 10. Opening up access Creative commons
  11. 11. Study week 25 Conversation Four activities Around four hours 46 contributors 296 comments 22,732 words Average 494 words each 198 comments liked 459 likes (11 for most liked)
  12. 12. Envisioning the future Conversation Accessible Closer to all For everyone Fostering a unified society Free Freedom to learn Guidance available 112 comments High quality Impactful Leave the world a better place Lifelong On demand Opening doors Personalised Pleasurable Self-directed Support every human’s right to thrive Transcending boundaries