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MOOCs, Learning Analytics and OER: An Impactful Trio for the Future of Education!

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This paper discusses the general thesis that massive open online courses (in short MOOC), open educational resources (in short OER) and learning analytics are an impactful trio for future education, especially if combined. The contribution bases upon our practical experience as service providers and researchers in the department “Educational Technology” at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) in Austria. The team members provide support to lecturers, teachers and researchers in these addressed fields for several years now, for example as host of the MOOC platform iMooX.at, providing only OER since 2015. Within this contribution, we will show, against some doubtful or conflicting opinions and positions, that (a) MOOCs are opening-up education; (b) learning analytics give insights and support learning, not only online learning, if implemented in MOOCs; and (c) that OER has the potential for sustainable resources, innovations and even more impact, especially if implemented in MOOCs.
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Draft orginally published in: Ebner M., Schön S. (2021) MOOCs, Learning Analytics and OER: An Im-
pactful Trio for the Future of Education!. In: Lane H.C., Zvacek S., Uhomoibhi J. (eds) Computer Sup-
ported Education. CSEDU 2020. Communications in Computer and Information Science, vol 1473.
Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-86439-2_2
MOOCs, Learning Analytics and OER
an impactful trio for the future of education!
Martin Ebner1 [0000-0001-5789-5296] and Sandra Schön2 [0000-0003-0267-5215]
1,2 Graz University of Technology, Münzgrabenstraße 36, 8010 Graz, Austria
martin.ebner@tugraz.at
Abstract. This paper discusses the general thesis that massive open online
courses (in short MOOC), open educational resources (in short OER) and learn-
ing analytics are an impactful trio for future education, especially if combined.
The contribution bases upon our practical experience as service providers and
researchers in the department Educational Technologyat Graz University of
Technology (TU Graz) in Austria. The team members provide support to lectur-
ers, teachers and researchers in these addressed fields for several years now, for
example as host of the MOOC platform iMooX.at, providing only OER since
2015. Within this contribution, we will show, against some doubtful or conflict-
ing opinions and positions, that (a) MOOCs are opening-up education; (b) learn-
ing analytics give insights and support learning, not only online learning, if im-
plemented in MOOCs; and (c) that OER has the potential for sustainable re-
sources, innovations and even more impact, especially if implemented in
MOOCs.
Keywords: Higher education, massive open online courses, open educational
resources, learning analytics, impact, innovation, open-up education
1 Introduction
The world of technologies and its applications is changing. Virtual Reality, 360-degree
videos, collaborative editing or video communication: We see inspiring implementa-
tion, interesting pilot applications and trials with these and other technologies. Some
might influence future learning; some might be overruled by new and better solutions.
Although this is a subjective perspective, we want to highlight and address the po-
tential impact of three developments of technology-enhanced learning; where we do
see a direct impact of learning practice, what we know about learning and how we can
share and bring education and knowledge to the world. These three developments are
the following:
First, MOOCs is an abbreviation for Massive Open Online Coursesis used to de-
scribe online courses that reach a very large number of participants, i.e. more than 150.
2
In addition, they are openbecause these courses are available online without formal
restrictions (such as a university entrance qualification) and are usually free of charge
[1].
Then, learning analytics (in short LA) “comprises the analysis, presentation and in-
terpretation of data from teaching and learning settings with the purpose that learners
can change their learning immediately" according to an Austrian white paper for higher
education [2].
Third, Open Educational Resources (in short OER) are learning and teaching mate-
rials for learners and teachers that are accessible free of charge on the Internet and have
been released for use and also for modification through appropriate licensing [3, 4].
Within the following, we will introduce our main theses and our approach.
2 Background, guiding theses and approach
Within this contribution, we want to highlight why these three developments are, a
driver for future education, especially when combined. These considerations are less of
a theoretical nature, but are based on our practical experience as service providers and
researchers in the department Educational Technologyat Graz University of Tech-
nology (TU Graz). Our team provides support to our lecturers, teachers and researchers
in the field of open educational resources, learning analytics and MOOCs for several
years now in a diverse context. We host for example the Austrian MOOC platform
iMooX.at only providing OER since 2015 [5].
From our point of view, however, it is not the isolated activities in the subject areas
of OER, MOOC and learning analytics, but rather their combination of OER in MOOCs
and learning analytics of MOOCs that give us special impulses and effects. In this paper
we would like to discuss the general thesis that MOOCs, OER and learning analytics
are an impactful trio for future education, especially if combined.
Therefore, we will show, against some doubtful or conflicting opinions and posi-
tions, that (a) MOOCs are opening-up education; (b) learning analytics give insights
and support learning, not only online learning, if implemented in MOOCs; and (c) that
OER has the potential for sustainable resources, innovations and even more impact,
especially if implemented within MOOCs (see Fig. 1).
Place fig. 1 here
Fig. 1. MOOCs, OER and learning analytics can be seen as an impactful trio for future education,
especially if combined.
This article is a script of a keynote at the INSTICC 2019 conference by Martin Ebner.
For the following explanations we refer mainly to the research work of our group and
common arguments or objections in the topic area, but not to a systematic literature
analysis with regard to the topics presented. This contribution is therefore to be under-
stood less as research than as a contribution for discussion and further impulses.
3
3 MOOCs as means to open-up higher education
3.1 Introduction into MOOCs
As described in the introduction, MOOCs is an abbreviation for Massive Open
Online Coursesand is used to describe online courses reaching a very large number
of participants, i.e. more than 150, sometimes several thousand. In addition, they are
openbecause these courses are available online without formal restrictions (such as
a university entrance qualification) and are usually free of charge [1]. Beside some very
interacting, co-learning and co-developing of course content approaches called
“cMOOC” (c for “connectivistic”), typically MOOC are related to a concept coined as
“xMOOCs” concept: Within this concept, learning videos and material for self-learning
are offered in a strict course form [6]. The exchange between learners is supported typ-
ically by moderated discussion forums. Through the organizational framework as a
course, i.e. with a common start and timelines for working and learning, participant
activities can be synchronized. MOOCs consider this social component as an added
value compared to individual, purely modular self-learning materials. The concept of
xMOOCs as such thus requires high media, information and self-learning competence
[6, p. 53, own translation].
In Austria, the iMooX.at platform of Graz University of Technology and the Uni-
versity of Graz went online in 2014. It has undertaken to offer only openly licensed
courses [5]. The offered courses of iMooX.at are defined asopen to all, i.e. there are
no access restrictions; course participation and certificates are free of charge.
3.2 MOOCS open-up university for new target groups
MOOCs are typically but not always offered by universities. Universities only
allows access to their learning materials to own students, who have to pay a lot for this
service, at least in USA and UK. Although (public) universities are for free in Austria
or Germany - beside an affordable student fee - they are more or less limited to enrolled
students with a higher education entrance qualification.
Per definition, MOOCs are “open” as the “open” in “Open Universities”: For
MOOCs, no formal entrance qualification nor an official enrollment at a university is
needed. So, practically, Internet access and an e-mail-address are typically the only
needed accessories for a MOOC participation. Not surprisingly, participants at MOOCs
are e.g. pupils, so younger persons under 18, and school leavers or lifelong learners
with no formal qualification allowing to study at a university. MOOCs participants can
be people who are out of reach or with too less time for a full-time (further) education
in brick and mortar. In case of iMooX.at, about half of the participants have no aca-
demic background, and more than a half are older than 35 years [7, 8]. Although
MOOCs so fare typically reach more well-educated people, this is opening-up educa-
tional content from universities to a broader target group and people who would not get
similar learning materials and support from other institutions, especially not for free.
4
3.3 MOOCs open-up learning experiences
Practically, MOOCs might be seldom the very first step into learning online. But of
course, MOOCs will enrich own learning experiences in various ways: They might give
a first sense of online learning and its opportunities, or make it possible to follow a
course from the other side of the world, including different teaching styles and proce-
dures. So, MOOCs are challenging and there for opening-up learning experiences.
3.4 MOOCs open-up horizons of own students
Particularly when university teachers offer MOOCs with their own students also par-
ticipating, their studies open up: Unlike at the university, the participants in MOOCs
are more diverse than their usually like-minded fellow students of the same age. For
students, participation in MOOCs also opens up the opportunity to discover very prac-
ticalquestions or experiences of practitioners in the discussion forum. We see the di-
versity of people and broader reach, also from different cultural and social backgrounds.
Here, we cannot refer to own research, but [9] got an overwhelming response to “Learn-
ing outside the Classroom [meant are MOOCS] has a Positive Impact on my Education”
of 44.52% who said they strongly agree with the statement and 51.61% said they agree.
4 Learning Analytics in MOOCs to get insights into learning
Within the following, we will go on with our second thesis “learning analytics give
insights and support learning, not only online learning, if implemented in MOOCs”.
Learning analytics is a procedure, as cited in this paper’s introduction, that “comprises
the analysis, presentation and interpretation of data from teaching and learning settings
with the purpose that learners can change their learning immediately" according to an
Austrian white paper for higher education [2]. Exemplarily, we want to show, what we
already learnt from learning analytics in MOOCs and how we can profit from it.
4.1 Introduction into LA for MOOCs
Learning analytics builds upon data of learners, and MOOCs have hundreds to thou-
sands of them. Following the idea to support MOOC learners and tutors, learning ana-
lytics is implemented in many professional MOOC platform [10]. Exemplarily, Fig. 2
illustrates the implementation of learning analytics into the processes of iMooX.at [11]:
Users at the iMooX.at platform have to register and log-in. So, there log-in data and
other activities are saved in log files. As such log files are not directly interpretable,
they need to be parsed and processed. Finally, these data can be visualized and pre-
sented to teachers and researchers. Of course, such visualization might also a display
for learners to support their learning progress and motivate future activities. So, learn-
ing analytics is a tool to optimize the MOOC learning and in general, learners’, teach-
ers’ and organization’s progress.
5
Place Fig. 2 here
Fig. 2. Implementation of learning analytics into the Processes at a MOOC platform, exemplarily
shown for the iMooX.at platform. Source: Khalil & Ebner, 2016 [11]
A recent literature review of MOOC and learning analytics identified data mining,
statistics and mathematics, text mining, semantics-linguistics analysis, visualization,
social network analysis and gamification as current methods. Of course, the use and
interpretation of the data within learning analytics have important constraints [12] such
as the transparency of the data collection, the question of ownership of data, data pro-
tection, confidentiality or integrity.
4.2 LA in MOOCs reveals: High dropout-rate on MOOCs is a legend
In school or university systems, people who leave the institution before or without a
final assessment and certification are seen and called “drop-outs”. A high drop-out rate
is therefore seen as something problematic. The system, the teachers or the learners
obviously failed in finalizing an important step of a part of an education, although it
was already started. This idea of a “failing” was transferred pretty early to the world of
MOOCs. There are several publications and international press highlighting the im-
pressing numbers of participants in many MOOC and the high numbers of so-called
“drop-outs”, using this for participants who did not finished the MOOC successfully
[13].
Learning analytics give deeper insights into what learners do in MOOCs, and own
observations lead to quite different interpretation if non-finishing learners are “drop-
outs”. Learning analytics shows that there is a part of people who never show up in an
online course. Some registered once, as a MOOC is typically for free this is no issue,
and then never log-in during course time. We do not think that it is appropriate to call
these people “drop-outs”: They never started. Then there are others, who are active in
the course but where it is hard to interpret why they do not finish the course. Some for
example watch some videos, took some tests and get good grades. Other only watch
some videos. Some do quizzes and are not successful. These learners could be inter-
ested in testing what they already know or what they might learn in this course. Others
will eventually lose interest because they do not see what they expected. But are these
people, and to what extent, drop-outs? From our point of view, this is pretty hard to
interpret also with the help of learning analytics [14]. Here, studies are helpful asking
the participants about their motives: [15] compared responses of MOOC completers
and non-completers (N=2,792) and found five statistically significant differences,
which are a related to the core features of MOOC: Completers have seen it more rele-
vant, that the MOOC is offered by a prestigious university, are more curious to take an
online class”, see the MOOC as supplement of other university/college class”, are more
often geographically isolated from educational institutions and say to a greater extent
they cannot afford to pursue a formal education (formulation taken over from Table 1).
We see the offer of MOOC more related to a book that was lent in a library: Some
of them are read completely, some or read partly, some will not be read. But for books,
6
everyone accepts such a behavior of people, and it cannot be measured also, so nobody
is arguing this as problem. But of course, the phenomena of drop-outs or other course
non-completers does not mean that there is nothing to do to prevent drop-out and foster
motivation to stay active. We therefore suggest to design short courses (four-week
MOOCs), embed granular certificates and suspense peak narratives [16], gamification
[17], foster discussion in the forum [18], or implement “inverse blended learning” (see
next chapter; [19, 20]).
4.3 LA in MOOCs tells us more about learning in general
There are many people who say that learning is not about technology. Technology
can influence learning, but not develop a quite different way to learn. From our per-
spective, MOOCs might influence a certain single learner’s activity, but learners’ char-
acteristics from a general perspective are the same as everywhere. For example, we did
a cluster analysis to identify different types of learners in a MOOC [21, 11]. What we
could see was a picture that looked familiar to us as lecturer in higher education: There
is a certain type of learners, learning in the expected and arranged way: They watch
most of the videos, read texts, make quizzes and are successful in the end. Then there
is a second group, more or less cheating our system: They only do the quizzes, if they
fail, they just re-do it, knowing the right answers know, till they are successful. The two
additional groups are smaller: A small group of people more or less reading and com-
menting in the discussion forum and another group with a very small activity, which
we consider as “drop-outs” (see above). In a way, this is more or less what we recognize
as reality in our lecture halls. So, we claim that LA of MOOCs might reveal how learn-
ing in classrooms happens but we do not have a proof of this impression.
LA in MOOCs also illustrates how learning happens all time. Teachers in schools
might see the time frame from 8 AM to 1 PM as the most active learners’ active sched-
ule. But learning is not fixed to a certain time schedule, especially if learners are self-
organized and have the opportunity to decide and schedule their learning on their own
possibilities, as in MOOCs.
4.4 LA in MOOCs supports learners and learning
LA is per definition an approach to use learners’ data to support teaching and their
learning. So, teachers can monitor learners’ activities with LA in a MOOC. But typi-
cally, the possibilities to really change a MOOC are limited besides some updates of
wrong URLs, spelling errors or active moderation in the discussion forum. Typically,
LA is used to see if there was certain aspect that might be enhanced in a future next
round of the MOOC. But some LA implementations allows direct support of learning.
For example, the LA cockpit developed for learning management system Moodle [22]
shows live activities within the course frame and therefore allows to react on special
patterns such as very low activities in the discussion forum or very low grades in the
quizzes of an accumulation of wrong answers in a specific quiz item.
7
With the help of a dashboard teachers can also get information about their MOOCs
for example, when and how often the online courses are accessed or how many people
posted how often in a discussion forum [23].
4.5 LA in MOOCs are the better alternative of data collection for
marketing or recruiting
In the US-American area MOOCs are seen by (expensive) universities as an oppor-
tunity to woo potential students [24]. In contrary, the primary purpose of the iMooX.at
platform is to offer online courses for everyone, whereby some of these courses are
produced in the context of lectures and afterwards released to the public. The platform
is subject to the strict data protection regulations in Austria and the guidelines of the
TU Graz; a sale of learners' data or use for personalized advertising - quite common
with other MOOC platforms - is therefore excluded.
So, this final thesis is, in not a real acknowledgement of what is possible with LA in
MOOCs but a critique on business models that need commercial success for many
MOOC providers in the world. Practically, this is not what we expect and support when
we emphasize the possibilities of MOOCs and LA.
5 OER as driver for innovations and impact
Copyright law is, especially in Middle Europe is a strong law [25]. Copyright and
also rights of use can therefore not be transferred to others or the public very easily. In
order to enable laypersons to grant third parties the use of their materials, a number of
licensing models have been introduced, e.g. by Creative Commons. This saves each
user from having to make individual agreements with the copyright holders regarding
use.
5.1 Introduction into OER as MOOCs
The potential of OERs is broad: Open educational resources can be an essential ele-
ment in supporting lifelong learning and knowledge societies [3, 26]. OER initiatives
are thus promoted publicly and by foundations because they can generally facilitate
access to education. All in all, OERs not only have savings effects but also offer the
possibility of expanding, adapting and updating the resource pool for innovative edu-
cational ideas [3, p. 20]. If the materials are freely accessible, it is easier and cheaper to
find - or adapt - suitable educational materials. Potentially, the quality of educational
resources can also be improved if the possibilities for improvement and quality control
are supported by systems (ibid.). Reputation effects are repeatedly pointed out, espe-
cially for the authors of OERs and for institutions that offer OERs: Through OERs one
can become aware of teachers or even potential education providers. As Hylén [27]
points out: Institutions to be engaged in OER will profit from good public relations,
the materials can function as a show-window attracting new students. [28] collected
8
the rationales of universities that introduced OER strategies, concentrating on the or-
ganizational change processes being pursued (rather than any altruistic motives). OER
can also be considered as “digital social innovation” [29]: The majority of projects
mapped by the European digital social innovation (DSI) project focused on education
and skills [30, p. 6]. Four case studies described in [29] show how OER projects vary
the traditional value-added chain known from educational resources and how impres-
sive value is generated, also by influencing as a flagship for projects in other fields. If
it is agreed in a project that a joint result is made available under an open license, this
is a simple rule and facilitates later use. Additionally, all others can use the educational
materials und the license obligations, typically an attribution to the authors/source and
the license. OER additionally serves as a base for easy interchange between institution
[29]. To sum up: There are a number of political, financial, altruistic and didactic argu-
ments for creating OER or supporting this idea.
In the following, we will show, that it has positive effects when OER are used in
MOOCs or MOOCs as a whole are OER. First of all, we must point out that the defini-
tions and understandings of OER and MOOCs are not always as clear-cut as shown:
MOOCs and OER are considered to be part of the movement for “Open Education” or
better “Opening-Up Education”. There are many contributions that refer to MOOCs as
OER, even if they are not OER in the sense of openly licensed materials. MOOCs that
are actually openly licensed is very rarely the case [31]. In our case, the platform
iMooX.at is such a MOOC platform only providing OER in the sense of definition as
licensed with open licenses that allows re-use, modification, re-publication etc. Alt-
hough the course is accessible only after registration and log-in for learners, all materi-
als can be downloaded, the videos are also accessible at Youtube.com. Additionally,
the iMooX.at team will share a whole course copy if asked, so that all details such as
the quizzes can be re-used easily, if wished (directly for the Open Source learning man-
agement system Moodle).
5.2 OER in MOOCs innovates MOOC designs and learning innovations
Open online course and MOOCs in general innovated learning and teaching. Never-
theless, we can share also several examples for new learning and teaching design with
MOOCs, which builds upon or are deeply connected to the fact that such a usage is
explicitly allowed under the condition of the licenses of the MOOCs, which are OER.
First of all, we want to share a design called “inverse blended learning”. One sce-
nario is to “blend” a MOOC with parallel activities in additional, interactive, typically
real-life face-to-face activities such as a local learner club or parallel workshops. We
call this approach of blending a former pure online course with face-to-face learning as
“inverse blended learning” [19, 20]. If whole MOOCs get real-live and interactive add-
ons, we call this “inverse blended MOOC”. But why did we try to “enrich” a pure online
course with presence activities? The course “Free Online Learning” was intended in
2014 to offer participants an introduction to self-learning using the Internet over a pe-
riod of eight weeks. At the heart of the concept was the idea of offering as many activ-
ities as possible around the online course to “bring the course back into the presence”
for the participants, for example by handing an sending out (printed!) working books
9
(or provide the PDF for self-print) and organizing face-to-face meetings and additional
offers with the support of several partners. In contrast to blended learning, where
phases of presence are interrupted and supplemented by online phases, in “inverse
blended learninga purely online offering is enriched with offline materials and ser-
vices.
Additionally, for teaching in university, own, but also MOOCs from others (if OER),
can be used in very diverse designs: In [32] we describe seven different scenarios that
we have implemented and supported within the last years as provider of Austria’s first
MOOC platform (iMooX.at):
Type 1: The conventional MOOC a pure online course for many users
Type 2: The Pre-MOOC an online course as preparation for a following
learning event
Type 3: The Blended MOOC a MOOC that is integrated in between several
face-to-face learning events
Type 4: The In-Between MOOC is a special form of type 3, where the
MOOC is in-between two face-to-face-events
Type 5: The Inverse-Blended MOOC a type of MOOC that is enriched by
face-to-face meetings and events
Type 6: The Flipped MOOC a MOOC is used to flipped/inverted classroom
concept: the MOOC prepares parallel for the face-to-face phases focussing to
discuss, train or apply knowledge.
Type 7: The Lecture MOOC is accompanied by online activities in the LMS
of an educational organization, allowing e.g. additional non-public discussions
and tests.
These types were clustered also examined how they embedded the MOOC in their
daily teaching practice and how the MOOC was integrated. Afterwards, we clustered
the examples and carried out a typology of seven different learning and teaching sce-
narios of MOOCs (see Fig. 3)
SEVEN TYPES OF MOOCS FOR TEACHING
Legend
Place fig. here
The conventional
MOOC
The Pre-MOOC
10
The Blended MOOC
The In-Between
MOOC (a variant of
Blended MOOC)
The Inverse-Blended
MOOC
The Flipped MOOC
The Lecture MOOC
Fig. 3. Seven different types of MOOCs for teaching. Source: Ebner, Schön & Braun (2020) [32].
Beside such teaching innovation and development of new possibilities for learners,
OER provides the same opportunities to re-use, modify and re-publication to learners.
So, learners can actively use the OER, practically the whole or part of the MOOC ma-
terials, e.g. to share with others in a comment in their blog posting, or within their e-
portfolio. Open educational practices in the understanding of supporting cooperative,
self-organized and active learning in the Internet era is usually restricted by the copy-
right regulations [26]. But, OER are the invitation and base to use the material, also for
learners.
5.3 OER in MOOCs allows new co-operations
The course introduced already in the paragraph before, “Free Online Learning”, was
initiated by two partners, who tried to get more partners for e.g. take over the printing
costs for the hand books and provide extra offers such as learners’ meeting in face-to-
face or additional free or non-free learning offers at their local institutes. What might
not even thinkable and very complex in the world of “usual” copyright and cooperation,
was comparable easy as all materials were open licensed: All partners were practically
allowed to use the materials and the course through the open licensing (CC BY 4.0), no
contracts were needed, commercial use was allowed also. Additionally, the supporting
11
partners were not only part of a single “marketing activity” as they can and are allowed
to use all materials later, within their own institutions as well. The common project was
not only a promotion for the MOOC platform, but was seen as a chance to attract people
for an own educational institution, illustration to be interested up-to-date learning tech-
nologies without any big risks. So, designed and implemented was the course of four
core partners (BIMS, Graz University of Technology, Association of Austrian Adult
Education and Salzburg Research). Further educational institutions in Austria and Ger-
many support the course by acting as a delivery point for the printed (free) workbooks:
In total there were 32 dispensaries in Austria and Germany, the booklet could also be
self-printed or sent by postage-paid envelopes. Some of them also offered in addition
to accompanying classroom and online events; for example, 12 offered public meetings
in Germany and Austria. So, the development of all course materials as open educa-
tional resources and the intensive search for cooperation partners, unproblematic ex-
tended the core partnership by numerous actors: So, there was among others a senior
club, a hotel, a youth club and an adult education centre within Austria, Germany and
German speaking Italy. From many different countries (in total 14), learners and also
many teachers use the course as a first entry for learning on the Web or with a MOOC.
Several accompanying deals were not available through the course pages for the public
but were intended only for closed groups, so for example an entire school class partic-
ipated. This idea of inverse blended learning and co-operations with many different
institutions was improved and brought into an even more impressing impact in our fol-
lowing paragraph.
To illustrate that an OER MOOC is a very good base for co-operations of different
universities is the lecture and exercise “Teaching and learning with new media” in
2019. It was developed and implemented as an OER MOOC accompanied by assign-
ments in the learning management systems of six Austrian partner universities and three
face-to-face appointments to support a group work. The exam is an online multiple-
choice test that was taken in person at the partner universities (see Figure 1). The as-
sessment for the course comprises a successful MOOC participation, the video produc-
tion (the result of the group work) and the exam. So, this example shows how OER
MOOCs enables or make co-operations between universities easier. This example can
also be seen as a new teaching innovation and example of a Blended and Lecture
MOOC (see above). For the records: This lecture was simple to transfer to a pure online
learning in the COVID-19 crisis in summer term 2020 [33].
5.4 OER in MOOCs enhances MOOC impact
The concept of “inverse blended learning” and co-operations with many partners
were extended and enhanced intensively by the MOOC makers CONEDU of the
EBmooc. “EBmooc” stands for “adult education MOOCs”, “eb” is a well-known ab-
breviation of the German “Erwachsenenbildung” [34]. The contents of the course refer
to digital tools that can be helpful in the daily work and in everyday life. The first run
of the EBmooc started on 6 March 2017 and lasted six weeks. During the conception
and preparation phase of EBmooc more than 40 trainers (learning facilitators) were
recruited to support the MOOC in many places in Austria with face-to-face and online
12
meetings. The project team provided the learning facilitators with extensive infor-
mation, instructions and the possibility to access EBmooc one month before the public
release of the course in order to make their own preparations. The result is impressive
for a German-speaking MOOC: The MOOC counted 3,064 registered participants,
2,247 of whom were active in the course, 1,083 participants passed all tests successfully
and received a certificate. This percentage of 35 percent is surprisingly high for a
MOOC [34]. In 2018 EBmooc conducted for a second time, the project was again
funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research. In the
follow-up project EBmooc plusthe contents and materials were updated and the
MOOC was conducted again in spring 2020 [35]. In total (as of May 2020) about 6,500
persons registered with EBmooc, and 3,900 persons registered with EBmooc plus. In
2019, in Austria about 6,500 people had full-time jobs in (non-profit) adult education,
nearly 50.000 in part-time, additional 25,000 as volunteers [36]. With about 11,000
participants in the EBmooc series we guess that a considerable percentage of Austrian
adult educators took part, and most of them should have heard about the initiative. So,
this continuing education offer is for sure one of the most important initiatives for adult
education experts in the German-speaking area, and certainly the most important initi-
ative for digitization in Austrian adult education so far.
A quite different approach of illustrating the potential of OER MOOCs concerning
impact is a course on data security and privacy in educational organizations at
iMooX.at: As the MOOC was OER, obviously a lot of people, over 10,000 so far, and
institutions who took the course as obligatory for (part of) their staff.
6 Summary
In this article we have pointedly and with many examples and research data ex-
plained why we gave the article the title: MOOCs, learning analytics and OER an
impactful trio for the future of education”.
Therefore, we showed, that (a) MOOCs are opening-up education: We described that
universities can attract new groups of learners, enrich the students’ experiences as
learners when letting them learn online and get into contact with people from outside
and their views and perspectives.
We also documented examples on how (b) learning analytics give insights and sup-
port learning, not only online learning, if implemented in MOOCs: We therefore shared
different insights into learning, discussing for example drop-outs in MOOCs and pat-
terns of learners in MOOCs. We therefore share the thesis, that LA in MOOCs allows
us to see and understand usual learning better.
And we gave examples on thesis (c) that OER has the potential for sustainable re-
sources, innovations and even more impact, especially if implemented in MOOCs: We
describe diverse new innovative teaching concepts such as “inverse blended learning”
and MOOC variants for teaching and how MOOC enhances co-operations with other
learning organizations and impact.
So, and this is especially shown in chapter 4 and 5, we see the main impact in the
combination of MOOCs with learning analytics and their provision as OER. When all
13
three ingredients are combined, they develop their potential: supporting insights into
learning and enhancing teaching, to reach more learners and develop learning and
teaching innovations.
7 Limitations and outlook
As a limitation, we see this article as discussion paper. We give examples and in-
sights that are picked out from our own and potentially biased perspectives. Others or
more objective meta-analysis might give a more objective insight. Nevertheless, the
hope that we give enough examples and insights why we see so much potential in the
combination of MOOCs, OER and LA, and especially in their combination.
One practical limitation is, that there are barriers to participate in MOOCs and usage
of OER that have to be overcome, excluding broad sections of the population: MOOCs
and OER need, for example, motivation to continue learning, self- and learning organ-
ization skills, digital skills and access to the Internet and appropriate equipment.
Practically, we see of course the issue that MOOCs and its materials cannot be di-
rectly accessed and therefore copy/pasted by other teachers (or learners): Registration
and log-in is essential if learning analytics is implemented. In the case of iMooX.at, we
therefore offer teachers to get the whole learning course as download, if wished, to
ensure re-use. We also add all videos at our Youtube channel.
In any case we hope this contribution inspire other working in our field or beyond to
try out and consider their perspective on OER, LA and MOOCs and start or intense to
test possibilities and effects on their own.
Acknowledgement
The development work presented here was partly co-funded by the Federal Ministry
of Education, Science and Research, Austria, as part of the 2019 call for proposals for
digital and social transformation in higher education for the project Open Education
Austria Advanced(2020-2024, partner organisations: University of Vienna, TU Graz,
University of Graz, University of Innsbruck, fnma and ÖIBF), “iMooX – Die MOOC-
Plattform als Service für alle österreichischen Universitäten” (2020-2024, partner or-
ganisation: TU Graz, University of Vienna) and “Learning AnalyticsStudierende im
Fokus” (TU Graz, University of Graz, University of Vienna) as well partly co-funded
by “Zukunftsfonds” of the State of Styria within the project “Learning AnalyticsAus-
wirkungen von Datenanalysen auf den Lernerfolg(2020-21, partner organisation:
University of Graz).
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... Following key research has been carried out and already published [12]: ...
... In our case, the platform iMooX.at is a MOOC platform only providing OER in the sense of definition as licensed with open licenses that allows re-use, modification, re-publication etc. This leads to several positive effects [12]: ...
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