Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Richard III MOOCThe University of Leicester has been working with FutureLearn since March 2013, and during this time, we have delivered several Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on the platform, each of which continues to re-run, and we are working on several more to be delivered over the next year. MOOCs are strategically planned to investigate different areas for MOOC design and delivery.

England in the Time of King Richard III (led by Deirdre O’Sullivan in Archaeology and Ancient History) is built with agility around a current and topical story, and appeals to the leisure learner and amateur/potential scholar alike.

An Introduction to Applied Linguistics (led by Pamela Rogerson Revell, English). An introduction to the field of Applied Linguistics and how it relates to various other disciplines, including linguistics and language teaching/TESOL. The course explores the role of linguistics in everyday life, including forensic linguistics, language assessment, gender-bias and legal language.

Behind the Scenes at the 21st Century Museum (led by Robin Clarke and Katy Bunning, School of Museum Studies) is a tactical ‘taster’ short course for people thinking about taking one of our full Distance Learning programmes.

Discovering Your PhD Potential: Writing a Research Proposal (Vanessa Beck and Neil Christie, formerly Co-Directors of Postgraduate Research in the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities). Driven by the Head of the College, the course is aimed at potential PhD applicants to encourage high quality research proposal applications. The MOOC scaffolds the application process, and in turn provides a taste of what doing a PhD would be like.

Concepts in Sustainable Development: an Introduction to the Key Issues (Derek Raine, Centre for Interdisciplinary Science). A course looking at the conceptual foundations of sustainable development, including social and political issues and wealth inequality; and the impact of geography, history and culture on sustainability. The strategic drivers for this course were to explore blended cohorts by allowing campus based students on the sustainability minor module to learn alongside MOOC learners, the role of sustainability in curriculum transformation and possibility of the course becoming a support resource for staff.

English Football: A Social History (John Williams, Sociology). A short three-week course run jointly with De Montfort University and Leicester City Football Club, examining the roots of football and its rise to modern prominence, with a focus on Leicester City FC and their successful 2015/16 season.

People Studying People: Research Ethics in Society (Alison Fox, Education (now at the Open University) and Jim Askham, Education) is designed for current or aspiring researchers in Social Science, Arts or the Humanities. The course introduces a four dimensional framework to evaluate how research should be worthwhile, responsible, respectful, and carried out by researchers who demonstrate their awareness of their duties as researchers.

Forensic Science and Criminal Justice (Lisa Smith, Criminology and John Bond, Chemistry) frames a MOOC around a theme or subject with a resonance in popular culture: our teaching and research reimagined for a broad mainstream audience.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the course, it is stimulating and motivational. In particular the commitment of the tutors impressed me. The course was well presented and the appropriateness of level of academia would not have phased anyone regardless of their prior learning and life experiences.

University of Leicester MOOCs have been very successful on the FutureLearn platform, and far exceed international standards in many areas. We have the MOOC with one of the highest learner participation rates (43%, Richard III); amongst the highest social interaction rate (50%, 21st Century Museum) and retain 30-­43% of learners through to the end of the course (industry average is 5­-10%). To date over 84,000 learners have taken at least one of our MOOCs.

If you would like to develop a MOOC or have an idea you'd like to discuss, please complete the MOOC proposal form below. New proposals are considered bi-annually by the MOOC Development Group. You may also like to come along to the MOOC Forum to discuss your ideas. We also have a Yammer group to discuss MOOC developments.

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