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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.