Are MOOCs pedagogically innovative?

While claims about pedagogic innovation in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are common (eg, Grainger, 2013; MOOCs@Edinburgh Group, 2013; Sharples et al, 2014; University of British Columbia, 2014), most reports provide no evidence to justify those claims. I recently published a paper with my colleague (and former supervisor) Alejandro Armellini on this topic. We report on a survey aimed at exploring how different stakeholders describe MOOCs, focusing on whether they would consider them pedagogically innovative, and if so, why. Respondents (n = 106) described MOOCs primarily as free, openly accessible online courses that attract large numbers of participants. Views on pedagogic innovation fell into three categories:

1) MOOCs are pedagogically innovative (15.1%). Explanations referred to massiveness, openness and connectivism. None of the participants offered a clear definition of or criteria for pedagogic innovation.

2) MOOCs are not pedagogically innovative (84.9%). More than half of the respondents added an unsolicited opinion, including strong criticisms of MOOCs.

3) MOOCs may or may not be pedagogically innovative. Umbrella terms (such as “pedagogically innovative”) were seen as unhelpful to describe all types of MOOCs.

The evidence suggests that caution should be exercised when characterising MOOCs as pedagogically innovative. Concrete practices within specific MOOCs may constitute pedagogic innovations in the areas of course design and delivery, such as the student-created assignment bank and the radio station of the cMOOC DS106. However, these practices are not exclusive to MOOCs: they can (and do) occur in any course, across different modes of study. The MOOC environment did not prompt them.

MOOCs provide good examples of technological innovation but also of highly debatable approaches to pedagogy. They may be deemed valuable as massive open online resources (MOORs), but far less so in terms of being pedagogically innovative courses. We should be cautious about applying blanket terms to describe different types of MOOCs. However, based on the evidence currently available and contrary to what many reports claim, MOOCs cannot be described as inherently pedagogically innovative.

The full paper is available at: http://www.ncolr.org/jiol/issues/pdf/14.1.2.pdf

References

Grainger, B. (2013). Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Report. London, UK: University of London. Retrieved from http://www.londoninternational.ac.uk/sites/default/files/documents/mooc_report- 2013.pdf

MOOCs@Edinburgh Group. (2013). MOOCs @ Edinburgh 2013: Report #1. Retrieved from https://www.era.lib.ed.ac.uk/bitstream/1842/6683/1/Edinburgh_MOOCs_Report2013_no 1.pdf

Sharples, M., Adams, A., Ferguson, R., Gaved, M., McAndrew, P., Rienties, B., … Whitelock, D. (2014). Innovating Pedagogy 2014: Open University Innovation Report 3. Milton Keynes, UK: The Open University.

University of British Columbia. (2014). UBC MOOC Pilot: Design and delivery overview. Retrieved from https://circle.ubc.ca/bitstream/handle/2429/51200/UBC_MOOC_Pilot_Report.pdf?seque nce=1

MOOCs behind the scenes

Since Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) emerged in 2008, they’ve made a lot of noise. They have intrigued, challenged and fascinated (some of) us. However, the literature on them is still limited and is mostly focused on the learners, with a significant minor focus on the institutional perspective (see Liyanagunawardena, Adams, & Williams, 2013).

Today I presented a paper -coauthored with Alejandro Armellini & Viviana Caceres– at Global Learn 2016 on how MOOCs are conceptualised, designed, developed, implemented and evaluated: MOOCs behind the scenes. The discussion that followed was enriching. There are many questions: Where is the institutional, overarching pedagogical strategy that guides MOOC-related decisions? Why are MOOCs failing to benefit from OERs? How can we assess the effectiveness of a MOOC when MOOC participants have all sorts of reasons to join a MOOC?

My presentation is available in Slideshare with a CC-licence. Feel free to share and to contact me if you have any questions or comments.


 

Reference

Liyanagunawardena, T., Adams, A., & Williams, S. (2013). MOOCs: A systematic study of the published literature 2008-2012. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 14(3), 202-227. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1455/2531

Study Skills MOOC

oew2016-badge-small.pngAs part of my post-doc research at UANL, I am studying a Study Skills MOOC, inspired by and developed in partnership with the University of Northampton. The aim is help students improve their self-efficacy beliefs and develop key study skills:

  1. Managing time
  2. Taking effective notes
  3. Finding reliable information
  4. Citing using APA format
  5. Understanding academic texts
  6. Academic writing

This course is available on Open Education Blackboard, or via the direct link: http://tinyurl.com/hemooc1  It will be delivered in Spanish.

On Twitter we are using the hashtag #hemooc (add @BrendaPadilla to obtain a direct response).

Joining is free! We are starting on May 2, 2016. We look forward to this experience.

 

MOOCs on Learning and Course Design

Along with Prof Gráinne Conole and Dr Paul Rudman, on the 29th Feb 2016 I will deliver two massive open online courses (MOOCs) in the European platform EMMA:

  • Designing Online Courses with the 7Cs Framework. The 7Cs represent a powerful seven-stage process that helps educators and designers create effective courses using digital technologies. In this course, students will learn collaboratively with other students and from experts in the field. Throughout 6 weeks, they will work on the design (or redesign!) of a technologically enhanced course.
  • 21st Century Learning . Online technologies, social media and open education have made learning ubiquitous.  This course provides an introduction to 21st century learning practices. Students will have a chance to evaluate their digital literacies, create their own personal learning environment, find open educational resources, explore virtual worlds and more!

These courses have no cost. They are aimed at academics, teachers and people interested in education, in general. Please feel free to join!

The problem when searching for OERs

Open educational resources (or OERs) are materials for teaching and learning that are offered freely for anyone to use, repurpose and/or redistribute. Examples include diagrams, homework assignments, quizzes, presentations, course modules and activities. Several repositories, such as OER Commons and Jorum, enable teachers and students to access these resources. People can also contribute by creating and posting their own OERs.

While the basic idea seems interesting and helpful, there are still challenges when searching for OERs. Several initiatives have attempted to list the available OER repositories. For example:

There are easily over 50 repositories around the world. These repositories have different parameters, such as the languages, educational levels and topics they focus on. Thus, their resources tend to be different. Some repositories have few search filters (or none at all) and rely on keywords to help people find what they need. For a common teacher, not entirely familiar with all the OER repositories available and their characteristics, trying to find a truly suitable resource can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.  I have taken so long in my search for suitable OERs that I have simply decided that creating materials myself, from scratch, requires a lesser time investment.

A search engine that enabled people to search all existing OERs respositories at once, using different filters, could solve the search/find problem. Actually, many people look for OERs using Google, probably due to its easiness. What other alternatives can you think of? What has been your experience with OERs?

Public domain images in Pixabay, or the beauty of sharing

When creating presentations and learning materials, I like using images to visually enhance my message.  While I believe it is fair to give credit to the creators of the images, there are some contexts in which having the attribution text (i.e., “Image courtesy of  X”) doesn’t look right (e.g., a set of decorative images in an invitation). In these cases, using public domain images is an option.

After exploring a couple of repositories, I found Pixabay. I love it. It has high quality pictures with a Creative Commons Deed CC0 license. People are free to adapt and use the images for many purposes (including commercial ones) without attributing the original source or author. There is no need to link back to Pixabay either.

Picture of my eye
Picture waiting for approval

I am a fan. I am thankful to the photographers who provide such wonderful images free of charge.

Wanting to do my bit, I recently began releasing some of my pictures to public domain. I am only an amateur photographer. I am still learning. Most of my pictures don’t fulfill Pixabay’s quality standards, but I am trying to improve. So far I have only considered three of my pictures (out of hundreds!) good enough for sharing. Two were accepted. One is waiting for approval.

I find it interesting that having 5 downloads (and a wow!) makes me feel so happy. There’s something about sharing that feels plain good. I wonder if other photographers feel this way. I hope they do. It’s a wonderful feeling.