MOOC structure

The research tasks set each week were fun, engaging, and gave me a much deeper level of knowledge than I normally get from online courses. The lecture slides were also excellent.

Our MOOCs are normally split into six weekly units, although it is possible to create MOOCs between 3 and 12 weeks long. Each week focuses on a particular subject and is designed to require an average of two hours’ study, but is split into 15­-20 smaller segments that allow learners to adopt flexible study patterns. Advice on adopting a personal study pattern is provided at the start of the course.

The FutureLearn platform is built around providing a learning experience in small, manageable and engaging chunks. Course materials are prepared with this in mind, and contain a mixture of short texts, audio overviews and interviews, images, videos, animations and slideshows.

There are formative exercises in each course: either short quizzes (multiple-­choice) or discussion activities. At the end of each week there is the option to include assessment through a multiple choice quiz or peer assessment. The courses have a strong narrative thread, and encourage learning through storytelling.

One of the key elements of the FutureLearn platform is social learning, and every step has a discussion board alongside the content. Learners can read what others have to say about the topic, join in with their own comments, and ‘like’ and ‘follow’ other learners so that they can easily find the people and comments that are of the most interest to them. Some discussions are solicited and pedagogically designed into the course, but discussions tend to naturally occur on every step as well.

On completion of at least 50% of course steps, learners have the option of purchasing a non­-accredited Statement of Participation, or if over 90% steps have been completed they can purchase a Certificate of Achievement. These outline what they have learned, and can be used as evidence of continuing professional development.

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