Experience Gained From Applying a Team-Based Approach for MOOC Development

Experience Gained From Applying a Team-Based Approach for MOOC Development

Natalia Spyropoulou (Hellenic Open University, Patras, Greece), Christos J. Pierrakeas (Technological Educational Institute (TEI) of Western Greece, Patras, Greece) and Achilles Kameas (School of Sciences and Technology, Hellenic Open University, Patras, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/IJWLTT.2019040102
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Massive open online courses (MOOC) constitute an emerging technology for distance and open education while interest in incorporating them in higher education is constantly growing. Due to the free and open access learning opportunities that they offer, they attract an immense number of learners from all over the world. Additionally, because of their openness, they present major challenges, including network co-creation within communities and new forms of communication and collaboration for both students and educators. In this article, the authors present a methodology for a team-based development of MOOCs with the use of a recognized design model that they applied in Hellenic Open University. The main objective is to illustrate the lessons learnt during this MOOC development.
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In order to meet the increasing demand for updated knowledge and skills placed on people by the society of knowledge that we are now living in, more and more people use information and communication technologies (ICT) in order to participate in distance educational courses. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been one of the most innovative movements within distance and open education and there is a great interest in incorporating them in higher education. According to the commonwealth of learning web site (2014), MOOCs have been the most reported technology development in education over the past year (Blake & Scanlon, 2014).

This emergent technology enables both open access and the participation of large numbers of students in online courses, creating new high-quality learning opportunities at no cost. Because of its openness, it can bring a diverse group of learners together regardless of their social and cultural background, while it enables geographically dispersed groups to collaborate and to create new forms of communication and collaboration for both students and educators (Gütl, Rizzardini, Chang & Morales, 2014; Kop, Fournier & Mak, 2011).

The effectiveness of MOOCs worldwide has been well documented by quantifying learning opportunities (Kauffman & Kauffman, 2015). As MOOCs gained momentum the past years and critical debate was brewing on their pedagogical effectiveness, many researchers have been discussing the development of MOOCs and their potential effect in higher education (Mackness, Waite, Roberts & Lovegrove, 2013; Sonwalkar, 2013; Fyle, 2013). The high attrition rate of students who register at the beginning of a MOOC is a major cause of concern regarding the long-term success, impact, and sustainability of MOOCs (Sonwalkar, 2013), as studies have found that completion rates are low with some reported to be significantly lower that 10% (Jordan, 2015).

The motivation of learners to participate in MOOCs has been presented as an important factor in the large number of the dropout rates in MOOC. Related studies showed that the learning design can change learners’ patterns of engagement with a MOOC (Ferguson et al., 2015). In addition, effective use of technology in education and the development of effective educational learning environment require comprehensive expertise in technology, pedagogy and content knowledge (Kohler & Mishra, 2005).

Therefore, one can conclude that, in order to design and develop attractive and effective courses, this modern educational framework requires, the combination of knowledge and expertise from different disciplines, such as learning technology, interaction design, media, pedagogy and andragogy, sociology, ethnography and even marketing. Additionally, the integration in one learning space of various online technologies, tools and services, including among others online and peer learning platforms, multimedia, open educational resources, interactive and immersive technologies, social computing tools can lead students to remain long-term engaged and active.

In this context, a methodology is proposed that realizes a team-based approach and illustrates lessons learned during MOOC development for the needs of two teaching modules of the Hellenic Open University, in the knowledge domains of “Compilers” of the module entitled “PLI24 – Software Design” and “Programming Languages (C Programming Language)” of the module entitled “PLI10 – Introduction to Informatics” of the undergraduate study program “PLI - Informatics” (www.eap.gr/pli_en.php). The implementation of these pilot courses provided practical evidence that a collaborative approach is required for the MOOC development process. However, the approach requires efficient organization and coordination of the teams involved.

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