Supporting Mobile learning in HE

In July, I chaired an Inside Government event on ‘Maximising Mobile Technology”. The event brought together researchers, teachers and managers from across the UK. Overall, a good experience and a well-organised event, where the difficulties that occasionally mar effective chairing (i.e. speakers not sticking to their allocated time, orchestrating discussion during and beyond the sessions) were absent as speakers and audience were very keen to communicate and interact. Continue reading

Six things we learned from MOOCs

  1. Videos as content are still a powerful medium

This is something we have known for a long time, ever since the ‘talking heads’ of the first VLEs. However, MOOCs have led to a re-evaluation of the perceived value of the non-interactive video in online learning content, which had frequently in the past received criticism as being non appropriate when used in online learning. In the context of the MOOCs there have been some good and engaging examples of combining “talking heads” with visual material (not necessarily focusing on narrated PowerPoints). The most successful seem to be short, thematic videos that can be searched/navigated/accessed easily by the learner.

  1. Social media can support independent learners

Connectivity in MOOCs is usually provided through conventional computer mediated communication media such as discussion fora and through social networking or other forms of social media. These seem to work well provided they are fully embedded in the course environment and there is some form of moderation. What makes them work, despite the lack of full moderation, might be the ‘massive’ numbers of students in MOOCs, but also the expectation in this context that you will get some help from your peer if not always from your tutor. Continue reading

Supporting module review

To complement our extensive and on-going workshop provision, we have recently launched a new (informal) KEATS module review initiative. Specifically we are now offering to explore teacher’s KEATS course spaces, gain an understanding of their intent and, where appropriate, make recommendations. The role is akin to that of a critical friend and will be centered on the use of technology to support the educational goals. As ever, we always seek to foreground our work in the educational context, not the technology.

In many ways this new initiative will help draw together some of the existing workshop activity and help staff apply the collective ideas to their KEATS spaces.

I’ll now look forward to hear about the impact of this initiative and also read some short case study descriptions of the work.

And so… If you are working at King’s, teach on modules, why not get in touch? Simply, there is nothing to lose and much to gain. Contact Dr Stylianos Hatzipanagos (, (Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning) who is leading this new initiative.

Prof. Mark Russell
Director of Technology Enhanced Learning
Head of the Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning

Designing for MOOCs: PART II – How are MOOCs different? (If at all)

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have become a major focus of perceived innovation in online learning. The major innovations with MOOCs are not the elements of access to academic support, peer interaction, computer mediated communication, and automated assessment. These have been used elsewhere to support student learning in more “conventional” online learning environments. Although it may share in some of the conventions of an ordinary course, such as a predefined timeline and weekly topics for consideration, a MOOC generally carries no prerequisites other than Internet access and interest, no predefined expectations for participation, and generally no formal accreditation.

What marks a MOOC out from conventional online learning is that no professional academic time is allocated to guiding or supporting individual learners. This is probably the biggest difference between other forms of online learning and the element of support in MOOCs.

Whether MOOCs are a genuine innovation, or a mere repackaging of prior heritage in open learning, is a significant theme in the academic literature. I will contribute to the debate in this space by considering the learning design approaches and features in MOOCs and their perceived value, based on evaluations and evidence from the literature. Continue reading

My experience with following a MOOC

In this post, I want to share with you my experience with following a MOOC on the FutureLearn platform. I decided to follow a MOOC as I wanted to see how the FutureLearn platform works, but mainly see how –and if- it is possible to engage a diverse audience of participants and keep their interest alive during a course that lasts several weeks.

So, first thing I had to do was to choose the MOOC I was going to follow. I didn’t want to choose something relevant to my educational background or professional experience, so I went for the “Introduction to Forensic Science”. I am a fan of TV crime dramas and so I felt that this would be quite intriguing. And so I registered.

Before I start describing some aspects of the course, I will briefly describe its structure. The “Introduction to Forensic Science” course lasts 6 weeks. Each week consists of a set of different activities. An activity may be a video to watch, a discussion to participate in, an article to read, a quiz to take, etc. Under each activity, participants can leave their comments and discuss with each other. Here, I will only discuss those aspects of the MOOC that in my opinion were the most interesting and made it interactive and engaging. Continue reading