MOOCs produce a vast amount of learner data, thus affording significant opportunities for educational research (Breslow, et al., 2013, p.13), and with much of this conducted around online pedagogies and learning design. While it is clear that universities are now increasingly able to reach a worldwide audience and extend access to research, education and training of the highest quality, there remains a lack of robust data and analysis around the effectiveness of and motivations for flexible, self-directed learning.
Simple exploration of our MOOC analytics indicates that professional learners are strongly represented in each course cohort. Milligan and Littlejohn suggest (2014, p.1) that while the open context of such courses can broadly reduce barriers to learning, this same open, flexible online format can also be useful to professional learners, enabling individuals to tailor their learning needs to their corresponding work demands. This presentation will report upon our findings regarding learner perspectives of the value and impact of MOOCs in terms of professional development. Based on data gathered in surveys and focus groups, it will highlight some of the reasons why working learners might participate in open courses, the importance of certifying or accrediting learning in this context, and how online learning can be attuned to workplace study.
Breslow, L., Pritchard, D.E., DeBoer, J., Stump, G.S., Ho, A.D., & Seaton, D.T. (2013) Studying learning in the worldwide classroom: Research into edX’s first MOOC. Research & Practice in Assessment, vol. 8, pp.13-25.
Milligan, C., and Littlejohn, A. (2014) Supporting Professional Learning In A Massive Open Online Course. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, vol.15(5).