Where is the balance?

By July 27, 2016English

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are, as the name suggests, courses with or for high student numbers. However, merely providing many students with information is not what education is about. MOOCs should and can enable deep learning, which implies that students have an active role during their learning process, engage in higher cognitive processes and relate new information to previous gained knowledge. Therefore, enabling deep learning can be seen as a criterion for MOOC quality.

One simple but crucial aspect regarding the quality of MOOCs is that of constructive alignment. Do MOOC designers deliver what they promise? Are intended learning goals/objectives met? How? Does the complexity of assessment and feedback methods match the complexity of the learning goals?

Besides the constructive alignment of the MOOC design one could improve the quality by focusing on how interactions between students, teachers and content influences deep learning. Which role(s) do students and teachers have?

Unfortunately, designing high-quality MOOCs is not enough when the goal is to deliver high-quality to a large scale. How can the quality remain the same (or maybe even increase?) without increasing teacher costs? Which assessment and feedback methods can be applied to large number of student without putting too much burden on teachers?

In short:

When provide deep learning experiences to large numbers of students, where is the balance between quality and scalability?

Scalability problems in Open Online Education (OOE) are recognized by several researchers. However, no definition of educational scalability can be found nor are their general solutions or guidelines about how to design high-quality and scalable MOOCs. Our goal is to get more insight into the course quality of MOOCs and their scalability to deliver a blueprint that provides simple, general guidelines that can be translated to other contexts.

This PhD project is part of the SOONER project (Structuration of Open Online education in the Netherlands). If you want to read more about all the four projects our team is working on you are welcome to visit our website (www.sooner.nu).


Author Julia Kasch

PhD student at the Welten Institute (Research Center for Learning, Teaching and Technology) of the Dutch Open University. Her PhD project is part of the SOONER project which is about the structuration of open online education in the Netherlands. Within her research she focuses on scalability solutions within Open Online Education regarding several aspects such as support, assessment and feedback methods. She is a member of the ICO research school (Interuniversity Center for Educational Sciences) and her background lies in Psychology and Learning Sciences. After completing her Bachelor (2013) and Master (2014) studies at Twente University, she worked at Bartiméus Foundation, as a researcher on a short term project (8 months). The Bartiméus Foundation provides education for blind and visually impaired children and young people. During her work at Bartiméus Foundation, Julia focused on supporting text comprehension, recall and information search in blind and visually students by adapting text designs.

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