H817 week 1 Activity 4: Identifying priorities for research


“Imagine you are advising a funding organisation that wishes to promote activity and research in the area of open education. Set out the three main priorities they should address, explaining each one and providing a justification for your list…”

Almost two weeks late with this task as I’ve been away, though have been reading other people’s suggestions as they came through. Quite a few chose sustainability as a theme, though not really in the sense I’m used to, which would include all three domains of sustainable development, ie social and environmental as well as financial. These other dimensions are highly relevant to open education, though would need to be broken down further for meaningful research, and I dont have sufficient time here to do this aspect justice. So for now,  my three priorities would be:

  1. How MOOCs might improve access to education and professional development for individuals and groups unable or unwilling to access these through traditional routes. This aspect would need to explore  issues around availability and cost of equipment/ broadband as well as actual content and management of courses.
  2. Effective course design for MOOCs. Normally I would pair this with online teaching strategies, but where you have a really massive course, the role of the tutor once the course has started seems likely to be quite minimal. Without the chance to respond spontaneously to all student contributions and interactions,  the underlying architecture of the course has to be really carefully thought through in advance.  It may be true that ‘the community is the curriculum’ (Cormier?) but to maximise that potential requires subtle scaffolding from a distance.
  3. Accreditation or evaluation of learning and achievement. I am working with colleagues to develop online professional development courses (miniMOOCs) which will be free to members of the learning development community. There is no resource for staffing such a course, but we have a tradition of self help and peer support, so the work will be carried out on a voluntary basis which wont allow us to assess course work in any formal way. I am intrigued by the possibility of using badges to recognise people’s achievement instead.
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