Following on from Enough Education to Perform, in this blog post I’m reviewing collectively the breakdown of learning design activities of 4 MOOCs that were created in 2014/15 and still in presentation on FutureLearn. The four MOOCs were selected for this blog series 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).
Each of the steps in FutureLearn are assigned a step type; Article, Video, Discussion, Exercise, Quiz and Test. The definitions of these step types were then mapped to the Learning Design Activities.
|Types of Activity||Example|
|Assimilative||Attending to information||Read, Watch, Listen, Think about, Access|
|Finding and handling information||Search for and processing information||List, Analyse, Collate, Plot, Find, Discover, Access, Use, Gather|
|Communication||Discussing module related content with at least one other person (Student or tutor)||Communicate, Debate, Discuss, Argue, Share, Report, Collaborate, Present, Describe|
|Productive||Actively constructing an artefact||Create, Build, Make, Design, Construct, Contribute, Complete|
|Experiential||Applying knowledge in a real-world setting||Practice, Apply, Mimic, Experience, Explore, Investigate|
|Interactive/adaptive||Applying learning in a stimulated setting||Explore, Experiment, Trial, Improve, Model, Stimulate|
|Assessment||All forms of assessment (summative, formative, and self-assessment)||Write, Present, Report, Demonstrate, Critique|
Rienties, Toetenel, and Bryan (2015)
By displaying this activity and taxonomy in a table it is possible to see how on a week-by-week basis the Activity Planners are broken down.
Forensic Psychology had the most number of steps totalling 150 across the 8 weeks of the course and unique in its presentation as it was designed to be released on a week-by-week basis with narrative content that would allow the learners to go behind the scenes of a police investigation to solve a crime. The weekly release was to ensure that learners could not view content in future weeks which would affect their cognition tests in the current week.
Both Start Writing Fiction and The Lottery of Birth have steps for Peer Review, however Start Writing Fiction has a higher number of these steps as an 8 week course, whilst Lottery of Birth is 4 weeks in length. Though both courses have a strong emphasis on assimilative activities, compared to the other courses they both had a prominent communication activities through discussion and peer review, thus both courses being categorised as social constructivist using the cluster analysis categories defined by Rienties, Toetenel, and Bryan (2015).
In comparison for Forensic Psychology and Childhood in the Digital Age, aside from assimilative activities the courses have a much lower focus on the remaining learning design activities, thus being categorised as constructivist using the cluster analysis categories defined by Rienties, Toetenel, and Bryan (2015).
The Lottery of Birth was the only course in which the hours set in the learning design were consistent with the hours stipulated on the course registration page. The other courses were lower in their learning design to allow for repeating cognitive activities in Forensic Psychology or for learners to refine their work for Start Writing Fiction.
Over the next few weeks my blog posts will be reviewing the performance data and learning design engagement survey for each of these courses in detail in relation to their learning designs to bring a conclusion as to whether these MOOCs were successfully designed for the demographic that registered for them.
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