Archive for category Open online learning

FutureLearn: ten wishes

With the first run of H880 Technology-enhanced Learning: Foundations and Futures near the middle of its first run, I visited the FutureLearn offices to talk to staff about what is working well and about changes I would like to see in the future. My suggestions were based on the experiences of both staff and students. This was an internal presentation, so I won’t share it here, just the high-level  summaries of the ten wishes.

Ten wishes: increased accessibility, cross-course study groups, upload facilities, social group for all students, Notes tool, appropriate analytics, updated portfolio tool, interventions, search facility, and emojis.


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FLAN London/Melbourne

Tweet about the London eventThe FutureLearn Academic Network (FLAN) has grown, with the addition of an Asia/Pacific chapter. The summer FLAN meeting therefore took place in two venues on 6 June. From noon until 6pm, the meeting took place in Melbourne, Australia, with some talks live streamed from Perth. At 6pm Australian time and 9am UK time, a keynote from Mike Sharples in London united the two groups. The event then continued in London, with talks live streamed in from Indianapolis, Madrid, Sheffield  and Milton Keynes. That’s 13 hours of FLAN – with speakers live on three continents!

Programme for FLAN event in Melbourne 6 June 2019

(all timings in local time)

12.30 Introduction: Marcus O’Donnell, PVC Teaching and Learning, Deakin University

12.45 Where to next with micro-credentials – and why? Beverley Oliver, Emeritus Professor, Deakin University

13.30 Enhancing learning experiences beyond MOOCs: design, use, and efficiency of generous interfaces Goki Miyakita, Keio University

13.45 Role of MOOCs in fostering and hindering global learning: Harsh Suri, Senior lecturer, Deakin University

14.00 Workshop on researching digital education: Philip Dawson and Margaret Bearman, Associate lecturers, Deakin University (face-to-face activity)

15.15 Break for afternoon tea

15.30 Panel: What’s the strategic value of researching MOOCs in the university sector? Professor Kylie Readman (PVC Education: Murdoch University), Professor Nick Barter (Academic Director, Griffith University Online) and Dr Clare Lloyd (Academic Director, Online Learning Initiatives, Newcastle University)

16.15 Assessing postgraduate online students’ perception, engagement and understanding on individualised written, audio and video feedback: Anna Rita Sequeira, Astrid Devine and Robert Sydenham, Murdoch University (streamed from Perth)

16.30 FutureLearn Degrees @ Deakin: Master of Information Technology Leadership (MITL): Nick Patterson, Senior Lecturer, Deakin University

16.45 Design of daily video blog enhancing educators’ social presence in MOOCs: Shun Arima, Keio University.

17.00 Clients’ digital stories: using the lived experience to personalise online learning: Darci Taylor, Deakin University

17.15 Refreshments

Programme for FLAN event in London 6 June 2019

(all timings in local time)

09:00 Mike Sharples: Keynote (livestreamed link with Australia) – Pedagogy at scale: past, present and future

10:00 Layla Croll: Responding to learning design (remote presentation from Sheffield)

10.30 Refreshments

11.00 Shi Min Chua: A corpus-assisted discourse analysis of the use and discursive construction of URLs in MOOC discussions (remote presentation from MIlton Keynes)

11:30 Barbara Conde: Using MOOCS as promising language learning objects to facilitate self-regulated learning

12.00 Matt Jenner: Research at FutureLearn – understanding new features

12:30 Lunch

13:15 Paco Iniesto: Understanding the stakeholders’ perspectives to design accessible MOOCs (remote presentation from Madrid)

13:45 Manuel León Urrutia: MOOCs and competencies for Higher Education transformation: an activity theory analysis

14:15 Reka Budai: Partner archetypes

14.45 Refreshments

15:00 Gaurav Nanda, Abigail Genry & Kerrie A Douglas, Understanding what learners like and dislike about MOOCs across subject areas using topic modeling (remote presentation from Indianapolis)

15:30 Annual discussion of FLAN Terms of Reference and Steering Committee

15:55 Eileen Scanlon: Closing remarks, followed by optional tour of FutureLearn offices


Tweet about FLAN in Melbourne

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OU quals on FutureLearn

Screen Shot 2019-05-17 at 14.15.22Another opportunity to talk to OU practitioners about the experience of putting an OU qualification on FutureLearn. This time the event was organised by the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Faculty at The Open University and was the annual meeting of their Taught Postgraduate Group.

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Leverhulme writing camp 2019

IMG_9030.jpgApril, and one of my favourite annual events – the Leverhulme Writing Camp.

The doctoral students on the Open World Learning programme funded by Leverhulme, together with their supervisor, spend a week in the Peak District, writing and researching, discussing and community building.

The OWL funding covers three cohorts of six students. The newest students are now coming to the end of their second year – the first cohort are gradually spreading out internationally as they complete their studies and start work.

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FutureLearn Academic Network: Dublin

Screen Shot 2019-05-17 at 13.36.32.png

The FutureLearn Academic Network (FLAN) ran its second event outside the UK in March 2019, with a visit to Dublin City University. I led a short workshop session at the end of the event on the network’s plans for the future.


Faílte – Welcome

  • Mark Brown, Director of National Institute of Digital Learning, DCU
  • Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl, The Ideas Lab@NIDL:DCU

Metrics for MOOCs and Masters

  • Tim O’Shea, University of Edinburgh

Running up that Hill: Cross Course Continuation on Irish Language MOOC Isabel Drury, FutureLearn

  • Conchúr Mac Lochlainn, Dublin City University

FutureLearn Update The World of Teachers

  • Isabel Drury, FutureLearn

Inclusive Higher Education through MOOCs: Integrating an Online Social Enterprise Program into an Indian University

  • Jeremy Wade, O.P. Jindal Global University


  • Eileen Scanlon, The Open University

What are they really feeling? Making sense of emotional data in MOOCs

  • Elaine Beirne, Dublin City University

The Big Debate

  • Mark Brown NIDL
  • Graínne Conole Open Education@NIDL: DCU

The Future of FLAN

  • Rebecca Ferguson, The Open University


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H880: first OU ‘degree’ on FutureLearn

H880 Technology-enhanced learning foundations and futures, the postgraduate module I’m chairing, went live on FutureLearn on Monday 4 February 2019. The module uses conversational learning, so students can benefit from studying as a diverse group from around the world.

We’re also taking the opportunity to include as much openness as we can in the module. Most of the resources we use are openly available, so students can make use of them in their own practice. We’re giving four weeks of the module a non-commercial creative commons licence. Once again, the aim is that students can take and rework the material to suit their own context.

We’ve also included an openly accessible MOOC, The Online Educator, as part of the study materials. H880 students will take part in this short MOOC alongside its other learners, benefiting from their perspectives, and also having opportunities to reflect on the distinctions between formal/formal, open/paid learning.

You can keep up with H880 via our Community blog, or our Twitter account. The Online Educator MOOC runs on FutureLearn several times a year. Join us on any run of the MOOC as a taster of some of the H880 material, or join the March presentation to study alongside the H880 cohort.

And, of course, it would be great if you joined us as a student on H880. It’s a 60-credit postgraduate module, and successful completion will earn you a Postgraduate Certificate in Online and Distance Education (PGCert ODE). There’s an introductory video here.

H880 start

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Building on previous research: FLAN Glasgow Meeting

This account that I wrote of a meeting of the FutureLearn Academic Network at Glasgow University was originally published on the FutureLearn Partners’ blog.

The meeting took place three weeks before the network’s fifth anniversary on 26 September 2018.

Tweet about Glasgow FLAN meeting alongside a picture of Glasgow UniversityTogether, we’re building a substantial body of work related to learning at scale. This was clearly evident at the autumn meeting of the FutureLearn Academic Network (FLAN) held at the University of Glasgow on Friday 7 September.

Adriana Wilde from the University of St Andrews and Conchúr Mac Lochlainn from Dublin City University both linked their research work to earlier work by the FutureLearn team that had identified FutureLearn archetypes. Each of these seven archetypes has a characteristic motivation for joining a particular MOOC, and is associated with a set of needs and values. Conchúr related these archetypes to student motivations on a specific course, while Adriana was interested in exploring different ways of clustering learners, dependent on their activity on the MOOC.

Two speakers presented research-supported tools that could be used to support exploration and learning. Phil Tubman contrasted the utility of the FutureLearn platform – what it does – with the usability of the platform – how this is conveyed to learners. He noted that a focus on progression may distract learners from reflecting on what has gone before. Phil’s Comment Discovery Tool, reported at earlier FLAN meetings, has proved to be a useful way of navigating comments on specific MOOCs. Another tool was introduced by Mike Sharples, who presented NQuire tool, the result of research into science teaching and learning. Mike explained how the tool could be used to support inquiry-based learning in FutureLearn MOOCs.

Three speakers from Dublin City University presented work related to the university’s series of MOOCs that provide an introduction to Irish language and culture. Each study dealt with the courses from a different perspective, building up a rich picture of motivations, identity, emotions and social media activity.

Shi Min Chua’s work built on previous research in conversational analysis and linguistics. She is exploring why some learners’ comments provoke response, while others go unanswered. If you want a response, it seems it’s good to use words like ‘please’, ‘wonder’ and ‘why’ when you comment, inviting opinions and expressing uncertainty. And, if you’re a language educator who wants to get a Twitter conversation going, Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl revealed that it’s really helpful to start sharing images and text about your dog!

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