#EDEN14 Digital education and lifelong learning

Jeff Haywood, Univ of Edinburgh. 2nd Keynote speaker on day one of EDEN2014.

Traditional settings can offer powerful teaching and learning. How can this be replicated online? Haywood states that MOOCs are the froth on the top of a cappuccino with the coffee as the really meaningful content. (Applause).
What defines lifelong learning? Change my job, improve my career, help with homework, keep studying my favourite subject, be a better citizen, return to work, socialise, learn for fun, keep my brain active… Challenge to make this flexible in time (of day, of life), flexible in location, flexible in format and affordable (not free or cheap, but pay according to your need). Can be formal, informal, non formal… Can take place at work, in groups and at an individual level.
Edinburgh is stepping into the distance online arena, starting with postgraduate market and tentatively trialling MOOCs as one route into the open entry market. Allows students to dip a toe in the water and try study at an informal level. Not a formal part of the university’s offerings – happens ‘on the side’, created by individuals. Need to use technology to be more effective at scale.
Haywood on MOOCs: number of offerings will rise steadily, currently around 1000 MOOCs worldwide across same range of subjects covered in more traditional curricula and across a wide and depths range of levels, and this will continue to increase. What can we learn from the students currently signing up? Trends so far…. there is an increase in repeat study (repeat cycle or students who enjoy the mode of study?); attracts much younger students many of whom use MOOCs as a supplement to other ongoing formal study (as well as those who are studying for interest at an older age); most students are based in the US and UK, but this is slowly changing (eg India and China are big growth markets); previous educational levels vary – subject dependent, not all highly educated; most consistent reason for studying is ‘to learn new stuff’ and to try out online learning, although there is a significant group wanting formal development, eg to use as part of career development or as a means of getting accreditation. Generally the younger students and those from developing countries are focused on career and certification and older students are most interested in learning for learning’s sake.
What are the future options for MOOCs? Perhaps a more formal and accepted move into a part of the university curriculum, as a means of solo or group study (perhaps as an auto cohort, eg group forms when enough students have signed up), in partnership with other HEIs or as open resources (underpinned by open access publications and data sets).
Challenges remain in many areas: credits (and credit transfer), recognition of prior learning, security, digital education in practical subjects, independent advice and guidance for learners, assessment, identification of the individual and their contributions, etc.


About sharonslade

Dr Sharon Slade is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Law at the Open University in the UK working to support both tutors and students on Open University distance learning modules and programmes. Her research interests encompass ethical issues in learning analytics and online learning and tuition. Project work includes the development of a student support framework to improve retention and progression and the development of a university wide tool for tracking students and triggering relevant and targeted interventions. She led the development of new policy around the ethical use of learning analytics within the Open University, UK.
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