The launch of the partnership between Coventry University and FutureLearn (FL) in 2017 to produce MOOCs and degrees as Coventry University Online (CUOL) created ripples throughout the HE sector – not least of all because FL is owned by the UK’s mother of online education, the OU. Almost two years later, with nearly 66 MOOCs produced and 15 degrees launched, what lessons have been learned? How has the aim of promoting lifelong learning and increasing access to education been achieved using new learning technologies? And how does FL’s social learning platform enable this goal?
In this short presentation I will critically reflect on the lessons learned from the project so far, flagging up some of the key challenges we’ve come across along the way that may also be experienced by other practitioners working in the field of learning technology. With one of the primary challenges being creating online material for open courses that also doubles as the first two weeks of a postgraduate degree module, I’ll look at specific examples from the early MSc Nursing open courses and modules, addressing common issues, with an emphasis on student feedback from the different cohorts to assess the wider impact of the learning technologies utilised.
The CUOL Studio is fortunate to have a large number of Digital Media Producers whose main role is to create engaging video content, however video learning creates its own set of challenges when the goal of creating mobile-friendly course content to enable mobile learning is considered. Mobile-friendly content is also achieved by FL’s pedagogy, primarily based on the work of Professor Diane Laurillard (2002, 2008, 2012), with the platform interface breaking each course into steps to encourage microlearning.
Another fundamental aspect of FL’s pedagogy is social eLearning, which in itself can be considered a learning technology, with the platform enabling the formation of communities of practice on a global scale via both its open courses and degree programmes. Discussions are encouraged via big questions to stimulate active learning (Jenner, 2016), while easily accessible learning analytics encourage educators and facilitators to check which steps have the most comments so they can easily join in the discussions themselves after viewing the Facilitation Dashboard. Learning analytics are also used to assess the effectiveness of different video content and step types, enabling review and encouraging refreshing the content for future runs.
The first two MSc Nursing open courses, Nursing in Crisis and Healthcare Research, had over 2,000 learners from 131 countries, so will be used as a case study in learning technology to ascertain how the goal of lifelong learning and increasing access to education has been achieved, along with the wider impact of learning technology in helping achieve this goal. Participants will have the opportunity to learn from CUOL’s experiences and benefit from the conclusions and recommendations made regarding the use of learning technology for wider impact in this context.
Jenner, M. (2016) ‘Big questions and Learning Design-led course drafting’, FutureLearn Partners [online] https://partners.futurelearn.com/updates/big-questions-and-learning-design-led-course-drafting/ (accessed 04.04 2019)
Laurillard, D. (2002) Rethinking University Teaching: A Conversational Framework for the Effective Use of Learning Technologies. London: RoutledgeFalmer.
Laurillard, Diana (2008) Digital technologies and their role in achieving our ambitions for education, A professorial lecture, Institute of Education, London. Republished by the Association for Learning Technologies, Oxford.
Laurillard, D. (2012) Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology. New York and London: Routledge