Growing body of research into MOOCs

In the last few months the number of published research papers, which focus on MOOCs has significantly increased and this looks to continue.

In May eLearning Papers published a special issue on MOOCs – MOOCs and Beyond

In June the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching published a special issue on MOOCs –  and this included a paper that I worked on with colleagues from Oxford Brookes University.

Another special issue this summer came from the Research and Practice in Assessment Journal – MOOCs and Technology

There has been a call for papers on MOOCs for the EMOOCS2014 conference in Switzerland in February …

… and a similar call from the journal Distance Education for a special issue to be published in April 2014

There are also papers about MOOCs which are not published in special issues. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning often publishes papers on MOOCs. Their most recent edition has included another paper written with my Oxford Brookes colleagues:

Mackness, J., Waite, M., Roberts, G., & Lovegrove, E. (2013). Learning in a small, task-oriented, connectivist MOOC: Pedagogical Issues and Implications for Higher Education. [S.l.], v. 14, n. 4. IRRODL

And there are many more, both already published and in the pipeline – see, for example, the conference that is being organized by George Siemens

University of Texas Arlington December 5-6, 2013: MOOCs and Emerging Educational Models: Policy, Practice, and Learning.

and the call for papers from the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (JCal) which, ironically, although prestigious is a closed journal – Learning Analytics in Massively Multiuser Virtual Environments and Courses

It is in the most recent issue of JCal that perhaps one of the most interesting articles from this whole list has emerged  – a critique, or perhaps more accurately a criticism, of connectivism.  Connectivism is the proposed learning theory that started off this MOOC ‘tsunami’ (as some have called it), although I wonder if all those who convene MOOCs know about connectivism. But Clarà and Barberà think they do.

Clarà, M. & Barberà, E. (2013).  Three problems with the connectivist conception of learning Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.

But even more interesting than the article is Stephen Downes’ response on his Half an Hour Blog – On the Three of Four Problems of Connectivism

This was published within days of the Clarà and Barberà article appearing in JCal, for free, on his blog.

So it’s worth remembering that high quality writing about MOOCs and MOOC issues will not always be in journals or conference papers, open or closed.

06-10-13 Postscript

Frances Bell’s comment about connectivism – below (see the link to her 2011 article) – and the number of times this post has been tweeted has made me think that it might be useful to mention a couple of other sources of MOOC research.

Rita Kop has been publishing papers about MOOCs since 2010. See

Research Publications on Massive Open Online Courses and Personal Learning Environments

In 2011 there was an IRRODL special issue on connectivism – pre-xMOOC ideas:

Special Issue – Connectivism: Design and Delivery of Social Networked Learning

And this year – again in IRRODL – Tharindu Liyanagunawardena et al. published a systematic study of MOOC literature 2008-2012.

So whereas in 2008, there was virtually no literature to draw on when writing a paper about MOOCs,  there is now more and more.

07-10-2013 PPS

As noted above, not all quality writing about MOOCs and connectivism is in published journals. A good place to start to find out what is not, is on Stephen Downes’ website. See Posts about MOOCs.