Integrating MOOCs in Higher Education: Procedures and Tools for a Mutual Commitment to Quality

Integrating MOOCs in Higher Education: Procedures and Tools for a Mutual Commitment to Quality

Florence Rouveix, Magali Guyon, Rémi Bachelet
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1238-8.ch011
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From the context of the emergence of MOOCs, this chapter studies the benefit of blending them with a face-to-face course in higher education. This approach highlights the wealth of opportunities offered by blended learning through the design methods and experience of the GdP MOOC that are transferable to other MOOCs. The implications for a cohort of students and in the pedagogical choices of their teacher show the advantage of a team dedicated to the partnerships to provide the interface between the format of training provided on the platform and the objectives of the host institution. From the awareness of the diversity of methods of integration into students' curricula, the question of the quality and the personalisation of the supporting tool in practical terms is based on the teachers' needs. Three functions are identified for effective blending: pedagogical scenarisation, delivering the training solution, and the methods of assessment.
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Today, MOOCs have taken a fully-fledged place in the training environment, whether this is formal education or lifelong learning, resulting from an individual enrolment or within the context of a training institution or a company. According to Shah (2018) more than 11,000 courses are available across the world, as of 2018, whether the subjects are general or on specialised topics, and originating from universities or intended for the general public.

Centrale Lille’s Project Management MOOC (MOOC GdP) is a good example of how this type of training solution has become established (Centrale Lille is one of the five oldest schools of engineering in France; it is authorised to award engineering degrees). It was created in 2013 and has reached 220,000 individual enrolments during its 13th edition in March 2019. The integration of the MOOC GdP in higher education courses was first tried out by some innovative teachers (Delpeyroux & Bachelet, 2015) and was then deployed on a much larger scale: between the edition of September 2014 and that of September 2018, the number of partner institutions increased by 58%, from 19 institutions (with 23 different courses) to 30 (with 38 different courses) and from 1295 active students to 3016 active students in the same session (i.e. an increase of 133% in the autumn 2018 session). This choice to blend face-to-face training with distance learning has created new needs to customise pedagogical solutions and to deliver the training. More than ever before, the teacher is at the heart of the pedagogical solution: he must be able to develop new know-how and new working methods in order to design and deliver this solution in a context specific to his institution and his audiences. To quote Albo (2016), the teacher is becoming a “learning designer”. Although the MOOC movement originated from the universities, how can a teacher adapt the design of his teaching with a course coming from another educational institution and taking place remotely? The teacher’s questioning of his role is a legitimate one in view of the contribution of external knowledge within his own course. The main questions concern the possible expectations, their nature and their assessment with indicators that are based on his needs as a teacher, ultimately, and in his own context.

Further on in this chapter we will see the context in which MOOCs emerged, in order to better understand their link with higher education and their relevance within face-to-face courses.

In the light of these developments and these questions, we will specifically study the Project Management MOOC offered by Centrale Lille (France). We will consider the experience of developing partnerships with institutions integrating the MOOC GdP into the curriculum of their students and the points for analysis of the different means used, from the perspective of possible transposition for MOOCs in general. We will address the question of what a MOOC can contribute to the pedagogical activities of a face-to-face course to achieve the teacher’s pedagogical objectives, as well as the complementary services that the issuing institution can offer him to design and deliver his training solution. We will then consider blended solutions to meet the needs of the teachers. Working from the identification of the three functions of scenarisation, delivery and assessment, following their temporal progression, the question of the quality of the partnership (process quality and mutual commitment) will be compared with the challenge of achieving quality training. Finally, the possibilities opened up by the field of educational data mining and learning analytics will show the challenges ahead regarding the prospects of collaboration between the platform editors and the MOOC designers, in the context of research and continuous improvement. This will be both from the point of the view of the experience of the learners and in the context of the implementation of partnerships with educational institutions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Flipped Classroom: “ A method of teaching in which students study new material at home, for example with videos or over the Internet, and then discuss and practise it with teachers in class, instead of the usual method where teachers present new material in school and students practise at home.” (Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary)

Constructive Alignment: “‘ Constructive alignment’ (CA) has two aspects. The ‘constructive’ aspect refers to the idea that students construct meaning through relevant learning activities. That is, meaning is not something imparted or transmitted from teacher to learner, but is something learners have to create for themselves. (...) The ‘alignment’ aspect refers to what the teacher does, which is to set up a learning environment that supports the learning activities appropriate to achieving the desired learning outcomes. The key is that the components in the teaching system, especially the teaching methods used and the assessment tasks, are aligned to the learning activities assumed in the intended outcomes. The learner is in a sense ‘trapped’: it is difficult to escape without learning what is intended should be learned. In setting up an aligned system, we specify the desired outcomes of our teaching, in terms not only of topic content, but in the level of understanding we want students to achieve. We then set up an environment that maximizes the likelihood that students will engage in the activities designed to achieve the intended outcomes. Finally, we choose assessment tasks that will tell us how well individual students have attained these outcomes, in terms of graded levels of acceptability. These levels are the grades we award. ” ( Biggs, 2003 )

SPOC: Acronym for “Small Private Online Course”. An online course derived from a MOOC but dedicated to a limited number of participants (from the same company or the same university course). SPOCs offer flexibility with the course schedule and to some degree, with the educational content. They often implement blended learning strategies.

H-MOOC: Framework put forward by Pérez et al. (2016) who describe the integration of MOOCs in hybrid solutions, based on two factors: the alignment on the pedagogical programme and the effort by the institution. This framework facilitates the comparison between different hybrid pedagogical solutions involving a MOOC. The term H-MOOC is also used to describe a pedagogical solution that integrates a MOOC into a face-to-face course.

Connectivism: “ Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories. Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements – not entirely under the control of the individual. Learning (defined as actionable knowledge) can reside outside of ourselves (within an organization or a database), is focused on connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing .” ( Siemens, 2005 )

ICTE: Information and Communication Technologies for Education.

xMOOC and cMOOC: The first MOOC typology: while xMOOCs are derived from University courses, as delivered by a teacher, with a final exam and completion certificate, cMOOCs are constructivists courses, in which the learners themselves contribute to the course and issue no completion certificate (a single, standardized exam is not possible). Though this typology is better used as a scale and the best MOOCs combine both approaches, xMOOCs are by far the most common MOOCs. They are delivered by the biggest MOOC platforms (EdX, Coursera and Canvas in the US, Futurelearn in the UK, XuetangX in China, SWAYAM in India, FUN in France, Miríadax in Spain). EdX was the first platform to deliver xMOOCs, hence the “x” in their name.

Learning Analytics: Measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs.

Educational Data Mining: “ Educational Data Mining is an emerging discipline, concerned with developing methods for exploring the unique and increasingly large-scale data that come from educational settings and using those methods to better understand students, and the settings which they learn in. Whether educational data is taken from students’ use of interactive learning environments, computer-supported collaborative learning, or administrative data from schools and universities, it often has multiple levels of meaningful hierarchy, which often need to be determined by properties of the data itself, rather than in advance. Issues of time, sequence, and context also play important roles in the study of educational data ”. (The International Educational Data Mining Society, 2019)

Blended Learning: pedagogical choice combining online learning, with digital media, and face-to-face learning.

MOOC: Acronym for “Massive Open Online Course”. Online training, interactive, with free access and bringing together a very large number of participants from across the world.

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