At the University of Aberdeen an interdisciplinary course was re-designed to incorporate a MOOC in place of traditional lectures. Alongside the MOOC on-campus participants participated in tutorial and group work, and were assessed based on both MOOC tests and campus activities. Drawing on an approach used by Winthrup et al. (2015) student engagement on the course was explored using the Higher Education Academy’s Student Engagement Survey (UKES 2016). This was simultaneously administered to the on-campus MOOC participants and a wider cohort of students across the University. Data from the two groups of respondents were compared to explore how engagement differed across the two groups. Additional data from small group interviews and tutor reflections validated findings and provided further insights into learners’ experiences of the course.
This paper will outline the model developed for the course and present a selection of findings from the research. Analysis revealed that although there are many areas where measures of engagement show no significant differences across the two cohorts, there were some where differences were evident. These included measures for working with others and exploring complex real world problems, contributing to a joint community and understanding people of other backgrounds. Analysis of interviews provided insights into learners’ behaviour, their understanding of MOOCs and use of discussions to support learning. For instance learners reported that they were more likely to interact using the online discussions in the MOOC than contribute in a face to face setting, and they used the discussions in different ways to support individual learning.
Although based on the experiences of a small number of students on a single blended course, the findings raise issues about differences in approach between on-campus and ‘public’ MOOC learners, about the potential value of online social learning for on-campus students, and the effective integration of MOOCs in on-campus provision which add to previous evidence and may be of interest others designing blended learning and MOOCs.
Israel, M. (2015). Effectiveness of integrating MOOCs in traditional classrooms for undergraduate students, IRRODL, 16(5).
Wintrup, J., Wakefield, K., and Davis, H. C. (2015). Engaged learning in MOOCs: a study using the UK Engagement Survey, available at: www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/ resources/engaged-learning-in-moocs.pdf
UKES (2016). UK Engagement Survey. York: Higher Education Academy. Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/institutions/surveys/uk-engagement-survey