A New MOOC for May/June – First Steps into Teaching in FE/HE

I have been invited to work with the Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development to develop a short MOOC (4-6 weeks) for Educational Developers and all those interested in teaching and learning in Further and Higher Education. I will be working with Marion Waite and George Roberts, who has already started blogging about it here – http://ocsld.brookesblogs.net/

This is an exciting project and I feel very fortunate to be part of the team. Oxford Brookes University has an international reputation for its Staff and Educational Development courses. The development of the MOOC is being supported by funding from the JISC Open Educational Resources Programme, Phase 3, PG Cert Development Strand.  We received notification of the funding in the middle of this week – so now we all need to do is get cracking.

The aim of this MOOC is to enable, facilitate and support open academic practice within Oxford Brookes University itself and across the academic community worldwide. We will not be starting from scratch. Oxford Brookes already runs a very successful face-to-face “First Steps into Teaching” course for which there is a waiting list. This course is targeted at new lecturers and postgraduate students who teach. The First Steps course is an element of the Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development’s (OCSLD) HEA accredited Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education (PCTHE). Building on OCSLD’s experience of running courses for a national and international audience, the First Steps OOC/MOOC will be offered free to the global academic community.

George, Marion and I had our first Skype meeting about this yesterday and there is now a lot to think about.  My current thinking is around these questions.

  • How will an already established and successful face-to-face ’closed’ course translate into a MOOC? What will we be able to keep? What will have to go?
  • More importantly how might traditional ways of working/thinking have to change to accommodate MOOC principles – autonomy, diversity, openness and connectedness?
  • What technologies/platforms will we use/promote and how will our choices affect our and participants’ abilities to aggregate, remix, re-purpose, feed/forward?
  • What assessment opportunities will be offered? How will we manage ‘for credit’ participants?
  • Most MOOCs I have been involved in have been at least 10 weeks long. This will be a short MOOC.  What are the issues specific to short MOOCs? Having looked around I can see that George Siemens and colleagues ran a 6 week MOOC at the end of 2010?   Have there been any MOOCs shorter than this?

Final thoughts at this very early stage in the process are

  • we need a definitive title for the MOOC asap;
  • we need specific dates for the MOOC asap (we know that it will be around middle of May to middle of June, but we need to settle on some);
  • and we need a tag for the MOOC asap.

Hopefully we will be able to make these decisions when we meet again next week.

Hope this post ‘wets your appetite’ for joining us. I will be blogging about the process of development as we go along and it would be great to receive comments from people who already have experience of designing/running MOOCs, or from tutors, lecturers, students or others interested in teaching and learning in Further or Higher Education.

30 thoughts on “A New MOOC for May/June – First Steps into Teaching in FE/HE

  1. Jeffrey Keefer February 11, 2012 / 12:33 pm

    Jenny, this sounds exciting, and I look forward to learning more! The topic and the length of it seems to be workable — keep us informed about it.

    Wondering now, as most MOOCs I have seen happen after all the decisions are already done, but perhaps you can share why the powers that be that are involved in this want a MOOC? What do they hope to accomplish with it (or what reasons did they present to justify the project funding)? Thinking along these lines, MOOC justification (at least much of this that I have read) has all been around participants, with less around why funding bodies want to provide the funds!

    Anyway, looking forward to hearing more and perhaps participating in this 😉


  2. Galileo's Grandmother February 11, 2012 / 4:23 pm

    Jenny, How exciting!! I am in the process of designing a learning R&D network for a client. The intent is to incorporate some of the principles of a MOOC – such as the ones your mention – learner autonomy, openness, diversity, connectedness. I will follow your project with interest and I really appreciate hearing some of your early thinking on this. Good luck!

  3. jennymackness February 11, 2012 / 7:12 pm

    Hi Jeffrey – thanks for your interesting question (you always ask good questions!)

    > why the powers that be that are involved in this want a MOOC? What do they hope to accomplish with it (or what reasons did they present to justify the project funding)

    Given that I’m independent of both the JISC and Oxford Brookes University, I can only answer this question from my own perspective.

    From the JISC’s website – http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearning/oer.aspx – we can see that they started this programme in 2009 with the intention, it seems, of encouraging HE to openly share their resources and make them widely accessible. Given the amount of money that the JISC gives out in funding each year, this is clearly a way of ensuring that the outcomes of various projects are more widely distributed, giving them a better return on their investment/money. This would be my interpretation.

    Oxford Brookes University, as the other ‘power to be’ in this endeavour, is in the midst of a wide ranging institutional change programme focused around learner engagement and sees digital and information literacy as a key graduate attribute. The University believes that open academic practice is an element of best academic practice. ‘If we want lecturers and institutions to be among the world’s leading universities, we must adopt open academic practices on an open academic platform’.

    Does this help to answer your question?


  4. jennymackness February 11, 2012 / 7:13 pm

    Hi Brenda – thanks for your comment. I look forward to hearing more about your learning R&D network that you are designing for a client. Perhaps we can swop notes 🙂


  5. Jeffrey Keefer February 11, 2012 / 10:33 pm

    This is great, Jenny. Thanks!

    Looking forward to seeing your (and our!) involvement!!


  6. VanessaVaile February 13, 2012 / 1:12 am

    perhaps there is long range goal of developing moocs (or mooc like structures) as more sustainable and affordable ongoing professional development programs

  7. criscrissman February 13, 2012 / 5:32 am

    My appetite is definitely whetted, Jennie. As for relatively short MOOCs, MobiMOOC http://mobimooc.wikispaces.com also had a 6-weeks duration. It occurs to me that a shorter MOOC might benefit from having “mentors” to help those new to networking tools over the initial hump. I think Lisa Lane has worked out a very manageable model with POTCERT 11 http://pedagogyfirst.org/wppf/ I’ve enjoyed serving as a first-time mentor in the course, and I’m sure that many of us MOOC veterans would be happy to help out with yours.

  8. Steve Mackenzie February 13, 2012 / 9:42 am

    Hi Jenny,

    Following up on cris’s comments I’d be happy to act as a mentor if this is part of your final strategy. Looking forward to it.


  9. Sylvia Currie February 13, 2012 / 2:43 pm

    Very excited about this! It strikes me that this course will be very useful for those in faculty support roles in higher ed.

    I’m assuming from your earlier posts that you won’t have a centralized forum, but if you decide to go that route I can offer, and help to organize/facilitate, a space in SCoPE (Moodle). http://scope.bccampus.ca

  10. jennymackness February 13, 2012 / 5:33 pm

    Cris – thanks so much for your comment. I was aware of Lisa’s course and have briefly ‘talked’ to her about it. I was also aware, although less so, of the mobiMooc – so thanks for reminding me about that one and giving me the links to both. Have you blogged about your mentor role, what it involves, the highs and lows? I would love to know more about it. We have briefly discussed the possibility of having mentors – but no decisions yet. If we go for it, I’ll be in touch 🙂


  11. jennymackness February 13, 2012 / 5:35 pm

    Hi Steve, thanks for your offer to mentor on our MOOC, if we go down that route. As I have said to Cris – we haven’t made any decisions about that yet – but won’t forget your offer if we decide to use this approach. Thanks so much, also for your advice and information that you sent me via Facebook. I’m still reading and thinking – and then will get back to you 🙂

  12. jennymackness February 13, 2012 / 5:38 pm

    Sylvia – how great to hear from you – and what a great offer. We are still discussing which technologies to use. I think Brookes have their own Moodle site, but if not I will be in touch, as I think we will almost certainly be using discussion forums. Our most pressing concern at the moment is what to use for synchronous sessions and for aggregating blogs, twitter etc. Any thoughts you can share with me?

  13. jennymackness February 13, 2012 / 5:41 pm

    Vanessa – thanks for your ‘visit’ and ‘yes’, I think you have a point. Thanks also for the comment and links you added to one of my PLENK posts – https://jennymackness.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/plenk2010-assessment-in-distributed-networks/ – which is very timely, as assessment is another aspect we are having to think hard about. If you have any further thoughts about this I would love to hear them.

  14. Stian Håklev (@houshuang) February 15, 2012 / 10:34 pm

    Very exciting, I just forwarded this notice to the head of centre for teaching and innovation at our university, and I am also personally very interested. I am frustrated by how little focus there is on teaching and learning in higher education within my school of education, and this might be a great forum to expand on my ideas, and connect with others in similar fields.

    It might be useful to have a little “leave your email here to be contacted when the course starts” box, for those of us who are well-meaning but easily distracted, and might not remember to check back in a month or two.

    I hope you will also support individual blogs (aggregation etc) as well as a discussion forum.

  15. jennymackness February 16, 2012 / 7:43 am

    Hi Stian – Thanks for your interest. I will be blogging about the MOOC fairly regularly and posting to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and anywhere else where it might catch people’s attention – so hopefully that will do the trick. If I don’t see you around in May, I’ll give you a nudge 🙂

  16. VanessaVaile May 20, 2012 / 4:07 am

    Jenny, a link on a change11 post (that I don’t seem to be able to find) sent me to the 2010 post. I have / had been thinking about assessment because it’s going to be such a sticking point for acceptance. The idea of third party assessment or assessment on performance or portfolios don’t bother me because I’ve taught in situations where my student were assessed by someone else on performance but following standard guidelines. Higher ed faculty colleagues, on the other hand, find it threatening. Acceptance may be more of an obstacle than design. In the meantime, I hope trying out courses for professional development will be a wedge. Now this evening and tomorrow, I’ve made my digital selves promise to let me have time for get started here.

  17. jennymackness May 20, 2012 / 8:45 am

    Hi Vanessa – you have reminded me that on CCK08, there was assessment, but it was set up such that participants doing the course for credit could be assessed by their own institution and I think one participant took up this option.

    I haven’t heard of this happening elsewhere.

    The only other related aspect is when a MOOC calls for mentors – as Alec Couros and Lisa Lane have done with their open courses/MOOCs – but I’m not sure if the mentors actually do any assessment.


  18. VanessaVaile May 20, 2012 / 1:55 pm

    Has anyone collected (aggregated) all the assessment options, w/ or without credit, that have tried out or are under discussion? I was a mentor in Lisa’s course, not involved with assessment. Mostly mentors had mentees, checked in with them, followed their blogs, commented, collaborated lightly, input when solicited (occassional emails. Some presented on the topic of a particular week when it was in their area. I didn’t because of connectivity problems, tried to make up by activity on Fb group. Like this one, it’s a work in progress. Alan if memory serves was a mentor (or if not should have been, may well be next round).

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