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Enhancing the student experience: integrating MOOCs into campus based modules

TitleEnhancing the student experience: integrating MOOCs into campus based modules
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsFair, N., Harris L., & León-Urrutia M.
PublisherICEM 2017
Date Published09/2017
Keywordsblended learning, MOOC research, MOOCs, network learning, quality, socio-technical intervention

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are continuing to expand in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). According to Class Central, over 1500 courses started in May 2017 alone. In some cases, these courses are becoming integrated into institutions, to such an extent that they are being incorporated in the on- campus curriculum. Externally-facing MOOCs are being used as part of face-to- face modules, often with the aim of leveraging the networked learning opportunities that these kind of open courses offer.

There are a range of benefits which learners can enjoy when undertaking a university module in which participating in a MOOC is part of the syllabus. Firstly, there is the opportunity to learn from the latest research in the subject, often before it is published more formally. Secondly, they can collaborate not only with their peers, but with a global learning community, exposing learners to a significant diversity of ideas, approaches, experience and knowledge. Thirdly, there are all the well reported benefits to being able to study where, when and with whom you chose.

There are also benefits to the creator university beyond that of developing teaching resources. Learners’ engagement with the content may help to co-create research in real time, both for academic research and for research into MOOCs themselves. In addition, complex materials such as network maps or interactive games that have been developed for a MOOC at considerable care and expense, and been subjected to thorough quality assurance processes, can also be reused in other contexts within the university, for example for student recruitment or staff development purposes. In summary, there are a wide range of opportunities emerging from the integration of MOOCs into the classroom.

However, at the moment it is not easy to evaluate the outcome of integrating MOOCs into traditional university modules, as there is not yet a great deal of research reporting on the area. Moreover, there are a wide range of methods that have been and can be used to this end: the participation in the MOOC may or may not be assessed; the role of the MOOC within the module can vary (teaching, revision, primer...etc); the role of on-campus learners can vary from mere participants to teaching assistants or content producers; the proportion of the MOOC learning materials used as module materials can also vary; and the timelines of the module in relation to the MOOC can also be very diverse. It is therefore important to assess the effectiveness of various initiatives in order to find the optimal internal uses of MOOCs. This paper reports on a socio-technical intervention in which 46 undergraduates on the Online Social Networks module at the University of Southampton also had the Learning in the Network Age and Power of Social Media FutureLearn MOOCs, and an offline support programme, integrated into the syllabus for revision purposes. Learners were surveyed before the module started to establish their prior experience of and attitudes to MOOCs. In order to reach an assessment of the effectiveness of the intervention, the module final grades and result profile, the learners assessed reflections and the anonymised end-of-module feedback forms were analysed. The module grade average increased by three percent, moving up a band, and the number of top grades awarded doubled. However, learner reflections and feedback were rather more mixed, with equal numbers of learners finding MOOCs of great value for deepening understanding as those who gained little benefit from the experience. Such diversity of outcomes led the researchers to a discussion of the barriers affecting a socio-technical approach to HE teaching and learning.

Refereed DesignationRefereed
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