Enabling online learning: who are the educators?

Papathoma, Tina; Littlejohn, Allison and Ferguson, Rebecca (2022). Enabling online learning: who are the educators? In: Sharpe, Rhona; Bennett, Sue and Varga-Atkins, Tünde eds. Handbook of Digital Higher Education. Elgar Handbooks in Education. Elgar, pp. 99–110.

URL: https://www.e-elgar.com/shop/gbp/handbook-of-digit...


This chapter examines the teaching activities that educators engage in, in the context of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Data was gathered from 28 professionals involved in teaching on seven different MOOCs on the FutureLearn platform, using a multiple case study approach. Participants’ prior experience was in face-to-face environments. The analysis uncovers the roles of people who carry out the teaching in MOOCs, and the wide variety of teaching activities in these settings. It provides a nuanced definition of teaching online courses (MOOCs), an activity which demands subject matter expertise, pedagogical decisions about the learning design, and technical skills. The need for this range of skills means professional development in these areas is crucial. This investigation contributes to a conceptualization of who the educators are in online learning contexts and of what teaching means in MOOCs and in other online or blended learning contexts.

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