The University of Southampton

Innovation in HE

a blog for teaching and learning innovators

Learning in the Network Age MOOC – starts 24th April

MOOC Preparation!Our latest course in the Web Science series of MOOCs is called Learning in the Network Age and it begins on 24th April. The course will be run by Lisa Harris and Nic Fair from the Web Science Institute and it includes contributions from a number of other university staff, students and alumni. The aim is to empower university students and staff around the world to develop their digital literacies and use their Personal Learning Networks effectively in order to maximise their lifelong learning potential.

Since the introduction of the World Wide Web and its associated mobile devices, societies and individuals have become much more connected to each other and to information than ever before. The Web is no longer simply an information resource, but also a space for interaction and creativity through which learners can develop a network value, potentially on a global scale.

In this world where knowledge is widely available, accessibility to it is determined and dependent on individuals’ ability to interact effectively with it. Therefore, from a very young age, we may best be characterised as networked individuals living and learning in a networked society, with our digital identity as important to our network value as our offline identity.

As a result, within the educational context, the Web and digital technology are no longer merely tools for teaching and learning, rather they are an integral part of the learning process, much as pen and paper used to be. This has had a profound effect on the way we learn. It has changed how we find, use and store information; how we communicate and collaborate; and how we create, present and share our ideas.

Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Executive Director of the Web Science Institute, says:

This course is a timely addition to the Web Science series of MOOCs. It showcases the current research of our PhD students and the direct benefit their work brings to all learners in the digital age.”

The main topics covered in the course will be:

  • What it means to be a university learner in the Network Age.
  • The impact of Digital Differences on our learning networks.
  • Investigating what our Personal Learning Networks (PLN) look like and identifying patterns in how we currently use them.
  • Growing our PLNs and assessing the reliability of online information and services.
  • Managing our PLNs and our online identity.
  • Activating our PLN for learning purposes.
  • Exploring a wide range of digital tools to assist with growing, managing and activating our PLNs.

The MOOC is being used as a revision aid and engagement tool for students studying the Curriculum Innovation module Online Social Networks this semester. Its impact in terms of added value to their studies is being evaluated as a case study for the Researching Assessment Practices (RAP) Catalyst A project led by Professor Carol Evans and funded by HEFCE.

The MOOC serves the additional function of data collection for current PhD research, and it provides a clear example of partnering and co-creating with students, with implications for both REF and TEF.  The research element of this MOOC is innovative because it does not collect data for research about MOOCs, which is common, but collects data for research into the subject area of the MOOC (Personal Learning Networks). This could become a new form of research methodology and provide these types of MOOC with an important future role for universities.

To join the course or find out more information, check out the course page on FutureLearn, contact us via our Twitter account @uosFLwebsci or search #FLlearningnetworks on social media.

Click here for more information about all upcoming University of Southampton MOOCs.

Researching MOOCs

The FutureLearn Academic Network (FLAN) Special Issue of the Journal of Interactive Media in Education (JIME) edited by Rebecca Ferguson, Eileen Scanlon and myself is out now and openly available online. It begins with an overview of all the work on MOOCs that has been published by FutureLearn UK partners. There are also papers on MOOC accessibility, adapting a MOOC for research, MOOCs for professional development, and the social-technical construction of MOOCs.

Nic Fair and myself will be presenting our plans for integrating research and education via MOOCs at the upcoming FLAN event at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) in Barcelona. Our latest MOOC, Learning in the Network Age, goes live in April. It brings together campus-based students and FutureLearners from around the world. More details can be found in the slides and video below:

Co-creation presentation by Digichamps at Social Media in HE Conference #SocMedHE16

Recently I presented with Student Digital Champions Tom Rowledge and Tom Davidson at the Social Media in Higher Education Conference held in Sheffield Hallam University. Actually, the two Toms did most of the work discussing their extended input to our Students as Creators and Change Agents (SACACA) project.

You can watch the Periscope recording, read their detailed blogpost about the event, or check out the slides below:

It was great to receive a number of appreciative tweets from the audience, despite our talk being scheduled in the dreaded  “after lunch slot” 🙂


A Socio-technical Approach to UK HE module design

After the EDULEARN conference earlier this month, the graphic below has been developed to try to represent the principles concerning a socio-technical approach to module design. This approach has been manifest in the ‘Living and Working on the Web’ module outlined in some of our earlier posts, graphics and videos.

You can find a graphical summary of this approach here.

Please let us know what you think about this and how the approach can be developed and improved.

Preliminary Analysis of Official Student Feedback Statements for ‘Living and Working on the Web’ module

A preliminary analysis, using content and sentiment analysis methods, of student feedback statements can be found in the latest of our interactive graphics below.

The feedback was given in the official end-of-module online feedback forms for 3 courses run during 2014-15 and 2015-16 (not just 2014-15 as shown in the graphic). It is likely that these comments may be a more reliable assessment of the course than using statements from the reflective writing which forms a significant part of the course as it does not form part of the summative assessment process.

The analysis indicates that students were positive towards key module aspects such as digital literacy development, student engagement, the pedagogical approach (especially Authenticity) and the feedback process.

On the other hand, the neutral and negative statements were mainly concerned with the module structure, in particular the weighting between the blog topics and the final reflective post, and the desire for help/training with IT tools.