The first UK massive open online course to offer students the option to pay for academic credit has ended, with none of its participants opting to fork out for official recognition.
The Edge Hill University Mooc, entitled Vampire Fictions, was announced in May last year and attracted about 1,000 students.
Of these, 31 reached the end of the course, with none opting to hand over the £200 that Edge Hill was charging in exchange for 20 credits at level 4 – the equivalent of a module on a first-year degree course.
One of the 31 completing students did sign up for a three-year creative writing degree at Edge Hill, with fees of £9,000 per year. They could have applied for their Mooc to be recognised for credit towards their degree, but opted not to do so.
This counts against the idea that open education supports learners in moving to formal study – though they may well experience high levels of satisfaction with their private study.http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/spooky-mooc-students-shun-edge-hill-academic-credit/2011445.article:
The report Engaged learning in MOOCs: a study using the UK Engagement Survey (UKES) published by the Higher Education Academy found that learners on two MOOC at The University of Southampton reported a higher proportion of students declaring a disability than national averages for higher education. This supports the idea that open education may be more accessible for students with disability. From p.22 of the report:
The generic survey reflects a lower proportion than the UKES of participants describing themselves as disabled. The latter reflects both the UK norm (16%)23 and the European average of one-sixth of working age people. Given that 20% of UKES participants are over 65 years of age, when disability increases to 45% of the UK population, this overall proportion seems low. Dyslexia alone is estimated to affect 10% of the population. However compared with disabled students in higher education, the proportions are relatively high. HESA (2013) found only 7% of students to be in receipt of disabled students’ allowance (DSA). Many disabled students do not register for or qualify for DSA, but even in terms of self-reporting only 8% report a disability on application.
However, this should be tempered by the fact that “the demographic profiles of learners resemble other MOOC cohorts; that is, an older and well-educated majority, with many working in education” (p.41).
The HEA/NUS Study Students‟ views on learning methods and Open Educational Resources in higher education found evidence to support the view that availability of OER can help attract students to an institution.
A majority of both traditional and non-traditional students expected the use of OERs to increase during the rest of their course, approximately a fifth in each case thought it would increase “a lot”. Non-traditional learners were more likely to have accessed OERs from their university prior to starting their courses. In some cases, accessing OERs prior to starting had a strong, positive impact on their decision of where to study – this was more the case for non-traditional students than traditional. This finding suggests that pre-course availability of OERs could help to attract students to an institution.
The HEA/NUS Study Students‟ views on learning methods and Open Educational Resources in higher education found that learners use a variety of methods to find and evaluate OER.
Students reported that they found out about OERs through a variety of means. There were some interesting differences between the traditional and non-traditional student groups, with non-traditional students more likely to be informed about OERs via the virtual learning environment (VLE) or website. Focus groups with traditional students revealed that many looked first to their lecturers to signpost OERs. There was also a sense that using OERs required different skills from those for using more traditional learning resources, so if universities were going to promote greater OER usage, there
was a need to ensure that all students were equipped with the necessary skills.
Students recognised that being able to search for resources was an important skill in order to succeed on their course. A number talked about how their knowledge of where and how to find relevant resources improved as they progressed through their course and they became more confident and knowledgeable
In general, however, many said they were overwhelmed by the quantity of results obtained when they searched on Google. Google Scholar was felt to be easy to use and produced relevant results, but was frequently frustrating when the resources identified were only available via subscription. Using library databases also presented problems as students were unsure which databases to use and struggled to understand how best to search various databases.
The HEA/NUS Study Students‟ views on learning methods and Open Educational Resources in higher education found that students showed good awareness of the features of OER:
Most of the students surveyed (82% of traditional learners and 83% of non-traditionallearners) were able to identify at least some of the characteristic features of OERs; the principles of “openness” and “accessibility” featured most strongly. Conceptualisations of OERs that focus group participants offered included: accessibility, equality, sharing, choice, inspiration, freedom and change.
However, licensing did not feature strongly as a feature of OER. The report continues:
A small number of students were aware of creative commons licences, usually in relation to Wikipedia or Flickr:
It is what the Wikipedia model is based on. It‟s the idea that you are free to edit, change or use the information, but if you have to change it then you have to make it your own, and it has to go back into the creative commons. (Participant 48, 20: 25–30)
Others mentioned intellectual property (IP) and copyright law. One student mentioned a difference between commercial and non-commercial use of images and another spoke about the need to seek permission from the copyright holder in some cases. A few others were aware of some differences between using resources for academic and commercial purposes.
Many students seemed to believe that OER was an agreement to share resources between institutions and were only available to registered students. Reuse and repurposing of resources was another aspect of OERs which did not feature strongly, but was mentioned by a small number of participants.
Isobel Falconer, Allison Littlejohn, Lou McGill, Eleni Boursinou are the authors of the OER4Adults report. As part of supplementary research for this project the team commissioned an open survey of lifelong learners and adult educators to gather data on indicators for selecting OER.
The results suggest that lifelong learners and adult educators find free (no cost) resources using Google (100%), online repositories such as flickr, YouTube, Wikipedia (70%), repositories of learning resources (25%) or asking a friend (25%) […]
In quality terms, their primary reason for choosing a resource is that it comes from an organisation they trust (65%), or that it comes near the top of the search engine results (53%); only 27% were directed to resources by a teacher. For only 30% is viewing the resource and evaluating its quality a major criterion, suggesting that organisational brand is more important in learner choice than is the quality of particular resources.
A case study presented by Creative Commons outlines the ways that open licensing of the WikiPremed course has led to positive outcomes for curriculum development.
When John Wetzel offered his WikiPremed course freely to students preparing for the MCAT, he was not primarily addressing the high cost of MCAT preparatory services. He offered his highly integrated approach to reviewing science classes as a way to overcome what he saw as the compartmentalization of science education. The fact that it was free was a bonus.
Aside from the fact that it’s free and openly licensed, what makes WikiPremed different from other premed curriculum? According to John, premed students are constantly getting ready for the “test of the week,” meaning that the takeaways from each unit aren’t very well contextualized. He first noted this gap while tutoring med school students. “Even the straight-A students didn’t get the connections between the biological sciences and chemistry and physics.” Wetzel set out to create a new approach that not only prepared students for the MCAT, but also connected the dots in their science education.
John sees open licensing as an invitation for others to get involved and suggest improvements. The CC licenses let other experts poke around and suggest improvements that have made it a stronger product and curriculum. “Just making it open makes the world your editor,” said Wetzel. “People see that you are trying to help students and they value that, and it makes them happy to help you.” Because WikiPremed is CC-licensed, it also allows use of other CC-licensed work. “The biggest benefit in this regard is the availability of the biology images from Wikimedia Commons,” he says.
Qualitative data gathered from interviews with faculty and focus groups with students at City University London suggests that both may have reservations about open badging. For example, it was found that students with high intrinsic motivation can find badges patronising.
However, there was some support for the idea that badging could motivate – largely based around the exclusivity of the award.
- Students want ‘special badges’ which would only be awarded to high achievers as this would be a way to stand out from their peers
- There were suggestions that badges would act as an extrinsic motivator, creating healthy competition within a cohort.
- Both staff and students felt it was important that major employers were aware of this badge initiative, in order to increase the credibility of badges.
By adapting virtual students and openly licensed OERs, there was a time saving, if the health systems were close enough in context:
“It only took approximately one hour to repurpose a case from the linear system to an English adapted linear model, but then to develop a branching model it took approximately 10 hours more.
Clearly though it is still a saving of time (by repurposing; in comparison with a de novo creation (estimated at 10-120 hours)”
(The Repurposing Existing Virtual Patients Project (REViP), Chara Balasubramaniam and Terry Poulton)
“This aspect of the Unicycle model was to provide guidance and support for OER co-ordinators within Faculties. It made available key documents and materials to assist Faculties with staff development, IPR awareness and OER use and submission through the institutional repository.
It guided and informed institutional policy and from that Faculty policy on OER. An example of this process is that this year the use of OER was highlighted as an Assessment Learning and Teaching priority for 2009/10. This priority setting requires that all Associate Deans for ALT in each Faculty demonstrate how OER has impacted on the ALT strategy for each Faculty”