Lessons from 'MOOCs for credit’ -- turning non-formal learning into formal credit

O'Sullivan, Terry Lessons from 'MOOCs for credit’ -- turning non-formal learning into formal credit. In: Open Impact Conference, 13-14 Dec 2019, Kampala, Uganda.

URL: http://business-school.open.ac.uk/sites/business-s...

Abstract

The unprecedented growth in learning material freely available on the web appears to offer enormous opportunities to learners and educators all over the world, especially in countries keen to accelerate educational development but hampered by lack of resources (Garrido and Koepke, 2016; Kursun, 2016; Laurillard and Kennedy, 2017; Sclater, 2016). Imagining the University of the future in Africa demands consideration of the role to be played by such material in curriculum and delivery. However, integrating Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and other Open Educational Resources (OERs) into, or alongside, formal accredited learning has its challenges. MOOCs often draw on educational paradigms which may be inconsistent with formal qualifications (Anders, 2015; Bradshaw, et al., 2017); OERs require discovery, evaluation and adaptation (Petrides et al., 2010); and incorporating OERs and MOOCs into credit-bearing qualifications can create tension with existing administrative systems (O’Sullivan, 2018) and external stakeholders (Daniel, in Latcham, 2012; Universities UK, 2013). This paper reflects on how the UK Open University’s MOOCs for Credit initiative has addressed these challenges in offering the UK’s first explicit route to formal academic credit from non-formal study in FutureLearn MOOCs (Weale, 2016). Taking into account processes of planning, production, marketing, administration and delivery, the paper discusses advantages and disadvantages of the MOOCs for Credit model compared to alternatives, and identifies implications for practice. The heady initial promise of MOOCs and OERs as profound disruptors of global Higher Education may well have been unrealistic, but, consciously adapted and managed, such resources still have substantial potential in the creation of ‘new higher education credentials, business models, and approaches to delivering degrees’ (Gallagher, 2017) in Africa and elsewhere.

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