In 2014-2015, the University of Southampton ran two successful maritime-themed MOOCs via FutureLearn; ‘Exploring our Oceans’ and ‘Shipwrecks and Submerged Worlds: Maritime Archaeology’. The courses were developed by staff in internationally leading research centres in two Faculties at the University: Natural and Environmental Sciences, and Humanities, supported by a central services unit.
Stakeholders that are not directly involved in MOOC development or delivery themselves are groups which are under-represented in the growing research body around MOOCs. Current and recent MOOC research can be broadly grouped under themes of learner engagement, learning design, learner analytics, cost and systemic impact; mainly the emphasis lies in direct stakeholders. A small number of Higher Education Institutions have published institutional impact reports such as the Universities of Edinburgh (MOOCs@Edinburgh 2013) and Leeds (Morris, Livesey and Elston 2014). The work in progress described here seeks to examine the cascade effect on teaching staff that have not been directly involved in MOOCs themselves and what perceived individual (non-standard) impacts may be. The work also explores the role of academics directly involved in MOOC development as agents of change within their faculties, disseminating their learning to colleagues.
The presentation will describe how the Institute for Learning Innovation and Development (ILIaD) at the University of Southampton has facilitated the dissemination of MOOC practice more broadly through staff development workshops. Case studies and reflections from MOOC course teams and academic faculty staff have been collated to produce a qualitative vignette of impact at individual and faculty levels.
As a result of experience, and resources developed by core teams, other faculty staff are keen to make their learning more blended. Bespoke resources (such as video) are available for use across the wider faculty. Staff have previously been reluctant to experiment on fee-paying undergraduate cohorts. However, freely available online tools in both MOOCs showcase ‘live’ applications with large numbers of learners so staff have a better idea of what works before trying it with students. Staff engagement with social media has increased, and there is improved awareness of pedagogically sound practice when making video recordings of their own lectures.
Further cascade effects extend out to stakeholders such as students and the general public. One faculty is exploring how to increase learner autonomy for its students. The facilitation teams for both MOOCs were composed of PhD students; in future MOOC facilitation may be incorporated into formal public engagement training opportunities for other postgraduates. Lastly, the MOOCs have generated many ideas for public engagement activities that can be scaled or adapted to different age groups.
A further development from this work is that ILIaD is now developing a SPOC (Small Private Online Course) on blended learning, initially for staff at the University of Southampton, although this may become a MOOC later. This will feature case studies from the MOOCs as well as other good practice in blended learning from campus-based courses. Initial indications are that MOOCs may act as catalysts in skills development for staff and their willingness to engage in blended learning, but this requires further exploration.
MOOCs@Edinburgh Research Group. (2013). Report #1. Accessed 28/05/2015 via Edinburgh Research Archive, University of Edinburgh https://www.era.lib.ed.ac.uk/handle/1842/6683
Morris, N., Livesey, S., & Elston, C. (2014). First time MOOC provider: reflections from a research-intensive university in the UK. Paper presented at the European MOOCS stakeholders Summit. Accessed 28/05/2015 from http://www.emoocs2014.eu/sites/default/files/Proceedings-Moocs-Summit-2014.pdf