How creating MOOCs can shape educators' open educational practices

11 Nov 2016 - 12:45
Man and laptop

Photo credit: Alejandro Escamilla (CC0 1.0)

Much discussion about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has been centred on the experiences of MOOC participants but little research has focussed on the effects making MOOCs may have on educators, especially on their practices.  

A recent study, however, describes how educators’ openness-related practices and attitudes change over time in two different MOOCs. The study, undertaken by CILT researchers,  focussed on the experiences of the lead educators on  two UCT MOOCs: Professors Susan Levine and Steve Reid of Medicine and the Arts: Humanising healthcare and Professor Mark Solms of What is a Mind? The research is qualitative and longitudinal, drawing on semi-structured interviews with lead educators before each MOOC was launched and ten months after its first iteration.

Prior to their MOOCs being launched, each educator was aiming to increase awareness around their respective interdisciplinary fields and all had “indicated an ideological commitment to sharing learning resources and making knowledge publically available". Legal openness was one of the four dimensions used to detect changes in educators open educational practices (OEP), the other dimensions being pedagogic openness and learning in open networks; encouraging others to teach and learn in open networks and reusing content in teaching/other contexts.

Working with the MOOC team to apply CC licences was the initial trigger to an appreciation of the opportunity of legally sharing resources, with, for example, Professor Solms remarking “there’s... been a dawning realisation that, the ownership of this intellectual property is antithetical to what we are trying to do. We are not trying to own ideas, we are trying to disseminate ideas… I don’t know why we never did it before and I am all for it”. Ten months later a shift in understanding of how the CC licenses work could be observed: “It’s not about ownership of knowledge, it’s the exact opposite. It’s about spreading knowledge. So any mechanism that will enhance your capacity to do that is the one that I like.””

This research is part of a larger set of ROER4D impact studies which aims to evaluate the impacts of Open Educational Resources. The paper, by Laura Czerniewicz, Andrew Deacon, Michael Glover and Sukaina Walji, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Computing in Higher Education. for a Special Issue on Open Education.

View the postprint of the article here