Thursday, 18 July 2013

ScHARR MOOC Diaries - Part XVII - Gold Rush or just Fool's Gold - A Quick Look at the Literature

Image used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) Licence. ©

Anyone following the evolution of MOOCs might agree that the M in Massive does not just apply exclusively to the number of participants. It could also be applied to the sheer number of articles, posts, papers, posters, reviews and events that appear every single day, this blog piece being one such example - apologies for clogging up your news feed.
Whenever I see Professor Brian Cox on the BBC explaining something mind-blowing about the Universe he always uses big numbers, 13.7 Billion years ago it all kicked off, so on and so forth. And that is how it can feel with regards to MOOCs, 160,000 students here, 80,000 there. The number of articles being written every week shows no sign of slowing down, so much so that if you were to put every word together (size 12 font) written about MOOCs it would stretch to Alpha Centuri and back 17 times over...probably.

All of this literature has lead to several ideas on where MOOCs are going and try to push them in that direction. We have cMOOCs to xMOOCs, and no doubt other variations - personally I’d like to push BOOCs (Boutique Open Online Course). Added with that are the idea of badges, certificates, merchandise, professional pathways and fee paying MOOCs delivered by industry experts to name but a few.

Even though MOOCs are not a new thing and can be traced back in one form or another to the last century, the last year has seen a massive upheaval in higher education as Universities decide it is better to be in than out. Whether in the long term MOOCs turn out to be the educational Emperor's New Clothes nobody knows. One thing for certain as new ideas and institutions appear on the scene it does start to look like a gold rush of the 19th Century. The result of that rush was that a lot of people got very rich whilst others perished and died. Articles have been written predicting that MOOCs will herald a new era for openness and innovation in learning whilst others see it as the beginning of the end for many institutions. All, in all, MOOCs have been one ‘massive’ wake up call for higher education.

Following the topic on my ScoopIt page and via Twitter searches amongst other systems I have certainly seen a shift in how MOOCs are being viewed with many of the earlier articles reflecting the movement in positive terms. As more and more articles appeared the predictable counter-arguments started to surface. There are two possible reasons for this, the first being that MOOCs have not brought about the changes and benefits we expected ‘just yet’ and therefore attracted criticism. The University of California announced last year that in fiscal terms, their MOOCs had not panned out as they would have wished. This openness and other examples from how to set up a MOOC (such as documented in the blog) have helped document and shape how other institutions run their courses and potentially learn from failures and successes. Whilst the other reason for the negative articles can be simply put down to something my old journalism lecturer used to call ‘perverse journalism’. This meaning taking the opposite argument from the rest, purely to stir up debate. There have been a few articles writing about the apocalypse that will befall most global universities now MOOCs are with us. The End of History and The Last MOOCs highlighting the most radical of futures where: “The last MOOCs will most probably serve independently as academic ATMs for delivery of resources, tests and “academic credits”, charging just few cents per transaction.”
The chances are that given the global financial climate and growth in higher education in Asia that some universities may fall by the wayside. ‘Who’, ‘how many’ and ‘when’ is anybody’s guess.  I’m a keen fan of The Gartner Hype Cycle which I apply to countless technologies and ideas including MOOCs, something that Timothy Chester writing for Educause touches on in his article Why MOOCs are Like Farmville. Chester believes we are at the ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’ with regards to the Gartner Hype Cycle. It would be interesting to find out if he felt we had slipped into the trough of disillusionment about now. Chester compared MOOCs with the huge Facebook game ‘Farmville’ in that: “that failed to live up to their early hype and were doomed by poor quality and a lack of financial support”. Of course it is not that simple as institutions are all having different experiences, tackling the development of their courses differently and at different stages of delivery. Nevertheless there are some critics who do believe we are in the trough of disillusionment and it might not get any better. The report on Australian Universities by Ernst and Young opened with the line: ‘Over the next 10-15 years, the current public university model in Australia will prove unviable in all but a few cases’. 10-15 years is a long time and with regards MOOCs it is hard to predict where we will be in one year’s time. On a more positive note Alan Cann from the University of Leicester argued on the LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog that MOOCs would eventually augment higher education not replace it. The human element of learning and MOOCs is touched on by Douglas Rushkoff for CNN who shows concern for the future of education regardless of MOOCs, saying: “Now that this massive collaborative learning project has succeeded, it would be a shame if we used it to take the humanity out of learning altogether“. Certainly on a similar theme Mark Guzdial wrote about existing issues highlighted by MOOCs in his article, saying: MOOCs do what the external world thinks that University teachers do”.

As for another kind of openness, looking at the institutions who have released post course data such as The University of Edinburgh and their EDC MOOC, the early signs are that MOOCs are still very westernised as you would imagine as they are being delivered predominantly from the west. In addition still mostly taken by people who already have studied at an academic institution. over 70% participants who completed surveys from the EDC MOOC confirmed they have at least studied at undergraduate level. So in terms of them being massive, online and courses we can all agree on, the open part is still yet to be fully exploited as most of what appears to have been written or talked about is within academic settings. Completion rates continue to be a thorny issue for MOOCs and how they are reported, Julia Lawrence writing for Education News is just one article critical of this in her article MOOCs May Have a Long Way to Go Before They’re Effective. I believe despite their growth in the academic setting, if you were to go up to 10 strangers in the street you may just find one who could tell you what a MOOC was. Yet that should all change following high profile coverage such as a piece on BBC’s Newsnight for example. As Justin Reich wrote about MOOCs and Higher Education’s Non-Consumers arguing if this form of learning was truly going to disrupt higher education it would need non-consumers to play a critical role.

A good synopsis of what is potentially good and bad about MOOCs is captured in the slideshare presentation by Martin Weller, Professor of Educational Technology at Open University. His presentation titled Surviving the Day of MOOCs, set to some apocalyptic - or should that be MOOCalyptic as I keep reading - background THAT gives five reasons why to do a MOOC and five opposing it. Another article by Cathy Davidson called for unity rather than polarisation in the MOOC debate bringing the bigger issue of higher education in general to the table.Davidson said: “Whatever else one may think about MOOCS, their vast popularity proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that very many people want – really, really want – more not less higher learning.”

Certainly from my own perspective, MOOCs can have the appearance of academic phishing, with institutions trying to hook the attention of masses of students by getting as many on board as possible, but that is the nature of entities being online period, so why should education be different? There are several articles talking about the quality of courses and even websites focussing on it, such as Mooc News & Reviews. An article by  Scott Carlson and Goldie Blumenstyk titled: ‘For Whom the College Being Reinvented?’ highlighted the interesting suggestion by Peter J. Stokes, executive director for postsecondary innovation at Northeastern's College of Professional Studies. Stokes said the: “whole MOOC thing is mass psychosis," a case of people "just throwing spaghetti against the wall" to see what sticks”.
An interesting thought, but one befitting higher education given that experimentation can be very much part of the learning and discovery process. Going to one of my favourite ever quotes, Einstein once said that: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”


Monday, 8 July 2013

ScHARR MOOC Diaries - Part XVI: Catering for diversity

Part XVI: Catering for diversity

For this week's blog, we wanted to share with you what has been arguably the most challenging aspect of building course materials for our Sustainable Healthy Diets MOOC: catering to and engaging such a diverse range of learners.

Of the three MOOCs we had offered here at the University of Sheffield, the ‘Sustainable Healthy Diets’ MOOC  attracted the most diverse audience, from sixth formers, to retired people and others never having studied at University level, as well as participants who were educated to Masters and PhD level, (with some already having specialist knowledge in the field)  whilst others who had signed up from India were not very confident in communicating in English.  As a consequence we designed material to try to pitch the level at one that was accessible to all.

In order to do this,  we decided to use a social constructivist approach to learning because of the nature / heterogeneity of those participating in the healthy sustainable diets MOOC (which was the philosophy behind the first MOOCs developed). The idea was to shift the focus from the formal academic content to a collaborative learning approach, where participants with greater knowledge and understanding could help those at an earlier stage in their learning to construct their knowledge and critical reflection.

The learning materials we selected reflected this - rather than focusing only on academic sources which may have alienated those participants not used to reading academic papers through the use of complex language and the scientific terminology, we chose to also include non scientific materials, such as newspaper articles. These were utilised more as prompts to facilitate participant discussion as opposed to as reliable sources of information.

Therefore some participants who may have been expecting more of a didactic style pedagogy, (which some of the more recent MOOCs in the USA have used) could have been disappointed with this approach, however we have had a great deal of positive feedback regarding the range of learning materials included and more importantly regarding the participatory and collaborative style of learning.

What is really encouraging to us as hosts, is the time that those who are more educated or knowledgeable in this subject area have been prepared to give in order to contribute to the discussions and further the debate and research agenda. This really captures the essence of a MOOC in widening participation, raising aspirations and communicating essential information to our citizens around the globe.

Weekly Webinars!

Week 2 webinar in full swing!
One of the most exciting aspects of our participation has been our weekly live webinars; not all institutions offering MOOCs have access to a synchronous webinar tool such as Blackboard Collaborate.

Fortunately within the School of Health and Related Research we do have this tool. We have invested in this primarily for use in enhancing the delivery of our post-graduate distance learning programmes such as the Master of Public Health (distance learning).

You can watch last week's lively webinar session below...

Luke and Angie

Friday, 28 June 2013

ScHARR MOOC Diaries - Part XV: Our first live webinar session!

1.Part XV: Our first live webinar session!

Live from ScHARR MOOC Headquarters
Well, that was a new experience! The ScHARR MOOCs team (led by Dr Angie Clonan) delivered their first LIVE webinar today. This was our first synchronous ScHARR MOOC session online and although it had an experimental nature to it, we felt it was something of a success!

We used the Blackboard Collaborate platform  and invited MOOCsters from the Sustainable Healthy Diets MOOC to sign up and take part beforehand.

During the webinar, we were able to successfully deliver an interactive review of the MOOC's first week, answer questions which had been raised throughout the week and hear from some of the MOOCsters themselves.

The webinar agenda was based on a template which will remain fairly similar through the remaining weeks of the MOOC, and consisted of:
Dr Angie Clonan leads the week 1 webinar

1. Introductions
2. Ground Rules
3. Briefly revisiting some of the weekly content
4. Discussing some of the blog posts
5. Answering questions posed prior to the session
6. Post webinar evaluation survey

There were less participants in attendance than we had prepared for, which allowed us to share the microphone around during the session, enabling participants to introduce themselves (where their own microphone allowed) and really led to a feeling of being able to share opinions in a relaxed format.

In true form, the enthusiasm of the participants who attended this webinar reflected that which we have encountered so far on the course, and this really added to the experience. We had anticipated scenarios where we had to take stronger moderating roles, but this situation never arose, and we worked our way through the webinar structure, finishing on time and on point!

Next week we have four guest experts participating in the webinar, so we may have less opportunity for verbal interaction with those in attendance, which will mean that our managing of the chat function maybe further tested!  

Tune in next week!

Friday, 21 June 2013

ScHARR MOOC Diaries - Part XIV: Sustainable Healthy Diets - induction week review

Part XIV: Sustainable Healthy Diets - induction week review

The Sustainable Healthy Diets MOOC begins

'Mission Control Centre' By NASACjosefy at en.wikipedia
It was 9am on the 17th June. The MOOC team were assembled at ScHARR MOOC headquarters, (aka Regent Court!), holding their breaths, and anxiously waiting to press the magic button which would kick start the most exciting adventure in learning that any of them had probably ever had!The hour was upon them, and Luke took up the mantle as chief button pusher. 5,4,3,2,1 and ping, we were live! Ok, so who are we kidding. It was all programmed to automatically release at 9am. The wait was, nonetheless, palpable.

The morning progressed, with a steady flow of participants arriving. By lunchtime, the discussion forums were bustling with people introducing themselves and in some cases reading and replying to each other. The cross-pollination was already in full swing. There was a loud cheer when our first video post came in. A magical moment for everyone I think - like a second moon landing really.

It was clear from the beginning that we’d chosen a subject here which was very popular and on which there was no shortage of opinions, hopes and ideas. A "we want to make the world a better place" mentality was emerging as people described what they felt a sustainable diet was and how it might be achieved.

So, can we save the world?

Well, not single handedly, but with a group of enthusiastic participants like the ones we have on this MOOC, we can certainly give it damn good go! From some of the introduction posts we read it was clear that there was significant diversity amongst our participants in terms of backgrounds and knowledge bases. We have been joined by academics with specialist knowledge relating to key sustainability issues and working on current projects exploring sustainability in different areas relating to food; we also have a number of grass roots project participants, with a wealth of experience in engaging with people in local communities on food issues. Combined with this, there a number of you who are taking the course for professional and personal reasons, and this is wonderful!

And now for the week in numbers...

During this first week, the MOOC received 468 discussion board posts (with the anticipation that with the weekend still to come, this may rise significantly before week 1 starts). These posts were mainly based around the introduction activity whereby MOOCsters were invited to introduce themselves, explain what they felt a “sustainable diet” meant to them and to read and respond to any of their peers’ posts.

We also received 146 unique blog posts in the MOOCsters blog groups (which were limited to approximately 50-55 members in each). These included some exciting video blog posts which we’re keen to encourage people to do over this 5 week course.

Finally, we received a large amount of tweets using the #dietsmooc hashtag. For this induction week, these tweets were again mainly people announcing their arrival via social media but also some tweeters giving early indications of what they thought about the course so far or their hopes for the coming weeks.

How are our MOOCsters interacting with the MOOC so far?

Coursesites' reporting tool is great for quickly spitting out some really useful data on course access. As expected, the majority of activity (58.2% ) in the first week has focussed on the course-wide discussion board. There was also a fair amount of activity on the content (18.9%) and then the group blogs (18.9%)
Which tools are being used?

We've also been able to see a break-down of when the participants are logging on to access our MOOC. As we can see below, the majority of access happens between 8am and 9pm British Standard Time.
When are MOOCsters accessing the course?

So far, so good then?

To sum up, we are thrilled with how our introductory week has gone, but if we said we weren't still holding our breath on a number of fronts we would be telling fibs! Will the technology continue to support us and our participants for the duration of the course? Can we keep such a diverse mix of MOOCsters interested and engaged till the end? How will our live discussion webinars go? The answer may be blowing in the wind, but if you tune in for our next post, we're hoping to have caught it and be in a position to share it with you.......

Angie Clonan and Luke Miller

Monday, 17 June 2013

ScHARR MOOC Diaries - Part XIII: Build it and they will come

Build it and they will come...

So, we designed some MOOCs and we marketed them as best we could without the marketing might of platforms such as Coursera. And they did indeed come. But who exactly were 'they'?

Today the first of the ScHARR MOOCs, the Sustainable Healthy Diets MOOC launched and we thought it was about time that we shared some information about who has actually signed for this exciting new journey!

How many?

First of all, numbers. How many did we recruit? Well, approximately 1400 people registered an interest in the Sustainable Healthy Diets MOOC. Of these (at the time of launch this morning) approximately 1000 had fully registered for the course (using the coursesites platform). The discrepancy between these numbers could be due to a number of reasons including:
  • an inability to complete the registration process (technical problems perhaps?)
  • a change of mind (some participants did contact us to say they would like to drop out or defer due to holidays and so on)
  • there is a possibility that the invitations they received were lost (emails can sometimes be marked as spam and removed from users' inboxes)

The fact is without actually surveying people we will never be able to accurately account for this loss of numbers.

When did they sign up?

So, for those that did successfully register, who signed up and when?

The graph below gives an indication of when people were signing up. Notice that there were definitely more signups as the course start date grew nearer. For the Sustainable Healthy Diets course we were averaging 50+ signups per day towards the end.
Signups from Feb - June 2013

Where are they coming from?

After signing up, participants (or MOOCsters as they've affectionately become known within the ScHARR MOOCs team!) were asked to complete an optional online survey gathering some basic demographic data. We received 584 responses for the Sustainable Healthy Diets MOOC.

We asked for:
  • Which continent are you from?
  • Which country are you form?
  • Age?
  • Gender?
  • How did you hear about us?
  • Why did you enrol on this course?

Interestingly. among other things, the results showed a distinct and unexpected gender divide. This may be a reflection of interest in this particular area?
Male: 144, Female:440
We also found that we had managed to recruit from over 61 countries worldwide

Participants 'attending' from over 61 countries
In terms of age, the participants were predominantly young. Could this be related to the fact that this course is online and younger 'digital natives' may be attracted to (or less hesitant about) this mode of delivery?
Spread of ages

How can we keep them?

We know from existing data that MOOCs by their very nature can suffer from a low participation and high drop-out rate. One of our main objectives is to keep participants interested and engaged the whole way through the 5 week course. We're using a range of participative teaching methods to foster and nurture online collaboration and networking. Our weekly live sessions aim to provide participants with unique opportunities to interact with the tutors, subject experts and each other. So whether or not we can keep them, time will tell!

Luke Miller

Monday, 3 June 2013

ScHARR MOOC Diaries - Part XII: Designing an advert for the Health Inequalities MOOC

The challenge: “To design and produce a short advert for the Health Inequalities MOOC. It must be something that grabs people’s attention and, importantly, gets people to sign up to the Health Inequalities  MOOC”.

By boo lee [CC-BY-2.0 (http://
by/2.0)],  via Wikimedia Commons
Piece of cake right? Well, not quite.

Step one: Decide on your target audience 

Whilst we were all excited about the chance to demonstrate our creative flair, given the newness of the MOOC (i.e. we’re still deciding on the content) and the subject matter, we had some trouble deciding how best to pitch it. MOOCs are freely available to anyone – so who exactly are our target audience? Should we expect that anyone who is interested in undertaking the health inequalities MOOC will already have a basic understanding of key concepts and terms, or should we work on the premise that most people are completely new to it? Disagreements over this question led to a number of team discussions about the types of language that we could use: those of us who wanted to speak in sociological terms versus those of us who preferred a plain English approach as far as possible. In the end I think that we have gone for the middle ground.

Step two: Design and record 

The team hard at work recording voiceovers
As the Health Inequalities MOOC lead, Katie had the creative vision for the advert: Contrasting images of poverty and wealth with voice overs from the MOOC team members talking about what health and health inequalities mean to us and stating some powerful health inequalities facts and statistics. So with the storyboard decided, we met up on a Wednesday afternoon to record the voice overs. Dan talked us through the process – talking clearly (and very closely) into the microphone. Some of us took to it a bit more easily than others and I (Jill) have to admit that I certainly feel I am more of a behind the scenes person. Still after a couple of hours Dan reckoned we had enough quality material for him to take away and work some magic on.

Step three: Hand over to the technical staff for those finishing touches

Now the tech boys in our team had the difficult job of finding appropriate images to tell the story of our MOOC. We needed good quality images that depicted the health and social problems we wanted to flag up in our advert – images to highlight that ‘health inequalities’ is about real people suffering unnecessarily. Finding contrasting images of wealth and poverty was easy – but when we pieced these together, we realised that this doesn’t quite convey the complexity of the story we wanted to tell. Many of the images we had access to showed people living in real poverty – difficult to look at and yet horribly familiar from our TV screens and perhaps therefore, tainted with many other associations. How could we predict how our audience would react to these? Secondly, we had to get the music right…. What tone did we want to set? This is a serious subject so maybe something sombre, but we also wanted to inspire people to think that participating in this MOOC was a chance to join a movement for change. A difficult task indeed.

Step four: Review and reflect 

A few weeks later the finished advert was ready. So have we got it right? Well we certainly feel that it looks the part. However, we’ve had a few comments that it reminds people of a charity plea for donations (not quite what we are aiming for).

Jill & Katie

Friday, 24 May 2013

ScHARR MOOC Diaries - Part XI: The faces behind the ScHARR MOOCs

The Faces behind the ScHARR MOOCs

Prior to beginning work on the ScHARR MOOCS, we assembled a dynamic team of experts from within the School of Health and Related Research. We thought it was about time we revealed a little more information about the them, so here's an informal glimpse into the psyches of the key players.

Name: Nick Baxter
Role: Marketing Officer for ScHARR
Background: Journalism, social media, communications and marketing
What excites you about MOOCs: The idea of people from all over the world using technology to participate in the same experience in real time is really exciting. Another amazing demonstration of the power of the internet.
What are you hoping to get out of running a MOOC: A greater understanding of how this type of free online course can be marketed, and how our learners from all over the world consume information relating to them.

Name: Claire Beecroft
Role: Course tutor on the HTA MOOC and Deputy Course Director of the MSc in Health Technology Assessment, Pricing and Reimbursement.
Background: I started out in health libraries and that lead to becoming a ScHARR Information Specialist, and eventually into teaching. I teach on online learning courses in ScHARR and am interested in health economic decision making and the media representation of it.
What excites you about MOOCs: The chance to teach to a very wide audience, to widen awareness of health technology assessment and its methods, and to reach hundreds or even thousands of students!
What are you hoping to get out of running a MOOC: To learn about healthcare systems internationally from those that work in them and/or are users of them, and to 'meet' our students online via forums/twitter/hangouts.

Name: Chris Blackmore
Role: Distance Learning lead for ScHARR
Background: I am a researcher in mental health with a special interest in research around e-learning
What excites you about MOOCs: The potential diversity of participants, and the opportunity to engage with people who might otherwise never have the chance to study at the University of Sheffield
What are you hoping to get out of running a MOOC: A glimpse at where education may (or may not) be headed in the future

Name: Dr. Chris Carroll
Role: Senior Lecturer in Health Technology Assessment (HTA)
Background: Conducting HTA for NICE; methods research for HTA
What excites you about MOOCs: We all encounter health technologies (drugs, devices, diagnostic tests) in our lives. A MOOC offers almost anyone anywhere the chance to access some of our course materials for free, and begin to understand how and why health technology assessment is performed
What are you hoping to get out of running a MOOC: To give those with an interest in the topic of health technology assessment a good overview of the whole HTA process; to explain how we get from industry developing technologies to healthcare services and providers deciding whether or not to pay for them; awareness raising; a first step in the creation of an informed audience for health care decision-making

Name: Dr. Angie Clonan
Role: Research fellow in ScHARR; Course leader for Sustainable diets MOOC
Background: Public health nutrition research
What excites you about MOOCs: Engaging with a global audience made up of people from all walks of life....
What are you hoping to get out of running a MOOC: Participation, debate, shared learning and lots of fun along the way!

Name: Dr. Michelle Holdsworth
Role: Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Course Tutor for Sustainable diets MOOC. I am also ScHARR's Director of Learning and Teaching.
Background: I have over 25 years experience in public health nutrition, including developing nutrition policy, lecturing and researching public health nutrition. My research is mainly focussed around the global obesity pandemic, and I have been working on the nutrition transition in low and middle-income countries for a number of years.
What excites you about MOOCs: allowing students from all over the world to have a taste of ScHARR's courses
What are you hoping to get out of running a MOOC: I am looking forward to an enriching experience, learning from the different cultural perspectives of students enrolled on the course- and how this influences the debate on sustainable eating patterns.

Name: Luke Miller
Role: Learning Technologist
Background: Supporting the adoption of technology enhanced learning with a school and with the creation and delivery of a suite of new Distance Learning programmes. These MOOCs share similarities with the kind of work I've been involved in previous but have a slightly different flavour in that they are open and not formally assessed.
What excites you about MOOCs: The idea that you can sign up at the press of a button for free and begin learning with no barriers. The idea that online tutors can reach almost an unlimited number of willing students. The fact that MOOCs can potentially provide educational benefits to those who may otherwise for various reasons struggle to participate in something similar.
What are you hoping to get out of running a MOOC: One thing I'm really keen to do from a technical stance, is assess the platform we've chosen ( This is an open platform with which our institution's workforce is already familiar. It includes lots of rich tools to support collaboration and learning. I'm hoping that my suspicion that the chosen platform is well suited to providing a rewarding cMOOC experience is proved to be true. I'm also keen to engage with people from all over the globe and to hear about the stories and experiences shared on these new learning journeys.

Name: Dr Katie Powell
Role: University Teacher in Public Health
Background: Sociology Masters and Research into social initiatives to improve health.
What excites you about MOOCs: The opportunity to start a conversation about health inequalities with so many people from across the world
What are you hoping to get out of running a MOOC: Meeting some people with an interest in this topic and hopefully, some interesting ideas about understanding and addressing health inequalities. I'm really looking forward to trailing our online teaching activities in an open access forum

Name: Dan Smith
Role: Learning Technologist
Background: Long-term keyboard jockey and general compu-bod that's spent far too much time working with virtual learning environments.
What excites you about MOOCs: the possibilities... they're still not particularly defined at the moment, and the idea of having an open platform that thousands can get to freely seems like one that offers a lot of potential. The platforms we use for running most of our online courses at them moment are very locked down - with good reason, but this makes them very constraining for many things, such as cross-institution work, peer networking or post-graduation revisiting. Could we use an open course as a pre-registration induction resource for students? Maybe the jumpoint for a personal learning network? Hopefully running one will help give a realistic insight into what is possible.
What are you hoping to get out of running a MOOC: It's a new way of running an online course for me, and will be a brand new experience. I'm hoping to learn a lot! Maybe it will become a new regular part of the university experience, maybe we can discover new options and limitations available through using an online platform.

Name: Andy Tattersall
Role: Information Specialist
Background: A mixture of journalism and informatics which means I'm naturally nosey, inquisitive and like to test the water in whatever I do, teaching, research or supporting my colleagues. My role is primarily to watch the skies for new and exciting opportunities to engage with technology and get my colleagues to embrace the Web whilst keeping an eye on pedagogy.
What excites you about MOOCs: Several things, but in a nutshell their potentially altruistic value, technological experimentation, the feeling we are on a journey into the unknown and that this could be part of a brave new world in education. I think education should be fun (where possible) and engaging, MOOCs have that potential.
What are you hoping to get out of running a MOOC: This is one large learning curve for everyone involved and that in itself is value. I think it's always important to test yourself and evolve where possible, I'm lucky enough to be involved in this project with such a great bunch of like-minded people.