After spending the last few weeks headlong in my studies I thought it high time come up for air and update my blog about the latest research I’ve been conducting for my doctorate…
My research investigates why learners engage with open online courses (OOCs) and what elements of learning design engages learners associated with course completion. The purpose of my research is to identify the elements of these courses that prompt learners to engage or disengage with learning design.
*NB: The M for massive has been purposefully removed as the number required to make a course ‘massive’ is open for debate and once a course has scaled beyond a few hundred learners the impact on learning design (rather than platform design) is in debate.
During the academic year of 2014-15, 13 courses were produced by The Open University for FutureLearn and for further syndication to OpenLearn. The process for learning design for formal courses is derived from the Open University Learning Design Initiative (OULDI) and has been adopted on a condensed timescale. Whereby a module by the OU takes 2 years to produce from a 3 day Learning Design Workshop, an OOC takes 24 weeks to produce from a 3 hour Learning Design Workshop. The learning design taxonomy for the identification of learning activities for formal courses remained the same for OOCs.
During the Learning Design Workshop, the course ideas from the Lead Educator/authors are discussed and recorded by a Learning Design Manager into an Activity Planner using the classification identified by OULDI. This provides future reference when writing the course content resulting in the creation of visualisations of the activities and resources contained in each of the courses.
Research is growing in the field of formal learning design in the form of modules and qualifications (Rienties, Toetenel, and Bryan 2015), however very little research has been conducted to date on the learning design of OOCs in the same way.
Through identifying this gap in the literature on the topic I’ve begun reviewing the learning designs of all 13 courses starting with 4 courses that were selected due to the variances identified in the learning designs; Forensic Psychology (released on a week-by-week basis due to narrative in the content), Start Writing Fiction (39% productive activities and use of peer review), Childhood in the Digital Age (with the highest percentage of assimilative activities), and The Lottery of Birth (with lower assimilative activities to accommodate for more communication, productive and finding and handling information activities).
The learning designs for these courses have been reviewed in conjunction with their associated learning performance data collated from FutureLearn dashboards for all presentations to date. This was then further reviewed with the OOC engagement survey I designed, replicated for each course and distributed to learners for the purpose of defining what elements of learning design activities learners engage and subsequently disengage with.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be blogging about the methods I used to review this data and the findings for each course.
Until then, I’m still Doctor in Waiting
Rienties, B., Toetenel, L., and Bryan, A. (2015). “Scaling up” learning design: impact of learning design activities on LMS behaviour and performance. In: Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge – LAK ’15, ACM, pp.315-319