Building networks of campus-based students and MOOC learners

Lisa Harris @lisaharris and Mike Molesworth – University of Southampton

Our MOOC in Digital Marketing with FutureLearn first ran with 15,092 registered learners in October 2014. While our traditional students from a range of courses were encouraged to take part, there was no formal requirement to do so and it was seen as an “optional extra” to their studies.  For the second running of the MOOC a year later, we wanted to link in our campus-based students more specifically to enable them to benefit from participation in a global community of learners, and reflect on their experience for module assessment purposes.

The introductory module of our Digital Marketing MSc (approx. 50 students) was chosen as the vehicle for this experiment. Students were asked to register for the MOOC, work through the course materials, and interact with MOOC learners via the discussion forums and the various social media spaces (mainly Google+, Twitter, Facebook) that evolved during the course. The assessed work for their introductory module required them to write 5 blog posts reflecting on different aspects of the learning experience of participating in these communities.

Our paper will report on the feedback we received from the students by drawing upon their written reflections on their blogs and from personal interviews. We expect that this type of learning experience will be new to almost all of them and that we will observe a wide range of reactions!

In the second phase of the project (beyond the date of this conference) we will revisit the student blogs and carry out more interviews to establish the extent to which the networks developed during the MOOC have been sustained beyond the course, and how they have contributed to the students’ overall learning experience on their MSc programme.