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Mary Howell
9 January 2017

Can participation in a MOOC form an effective part of teacher continuing professional development (CPD)?

A case study with the theme of implementation.


The crisis in teacher recruitment and retention, in England’s schools draws attention to the fact that we need to support practising teachers, so they can remain in the classroom (Hood, 2016) and be effective Coe, et al, 2014).  Strong pedagogical skills and content knowledge, alongside high quality instruction are identified as major influences on pupils’ progress and are therefore priority areas for teacher development (Coe, et al, 2014). Open learning approaches, such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have the potential to deliver features essential to effective teacher CPD: to offer learning, which is reflective, relevant, sustained over time and collaborative (Cordingley, et al, 2015).

In the context of economic constraints (Department for Education, 2016), a disrupted education landscape (The Economist, 2014) and unprecedented pressure and work load issues for teachers (Coe, 2014), the much needed effective teacher CPD is proving difficult to achieve by conventional face to face means (Hood, 2016).  This case study explores open learning approaches and whether online working can support teachers.  In particular Massive Open Online Courses are discussed in light of knowledge about barriers and advantages of open learning in professional contexts (Adams, 2007).

Qualitative data, surrounding experiences of MOOC mentors, supporting teacher learning during a ‘FutureLearn, ‘Assessment for Learning,’’ MOOC were shared via a professional activity log and in an online focus group.  Insights from analysis of this material and supporting literature will be discussed and conclusions about the effectiveness of teacher learning in this MOOCs drawn.  Any implications for future MOOC design, best practice in mentor activity and optimal MOOC learning tasks for fostering engagement, reflection and collaboration will be disseminated. 

Extra content

Final Poster for What Learning do MOOC Mentors Witness?


Mary Howell
18:05 on 25 January 2017


Adams, A. (2007) How Technology can Enable or Inhibit Work-Based Learning in a Clinical Setting [Online] Available at Accessed 03/01/2017 17:37


Coe, R. Aloisi, C. Higgins, S. and Major, L.E. (2014) ‘What makes great teaching? Review of the underpinning research’ [Online] Available at Accessed 31/12/2016

Cordingley, P., Higgins, S., Greany, T., Buckler, N., Coles-Jordan, D., Crisp, B., Saunders, L., Coe, R. (2015), Developing Great Teaching: Lessons from the international reviews into effective professional development. Teacher Development Trust.  [Online] Accessed 10/02/2017

Department for Education (DfE) (2016) Standard for teachers’ professional development Implementation guidance for school leaders, teachers, and organisations that offer professional development for teachers.  [Online] Accessed 12/1/17

The Economist, (2014) ‘The New School Rules’ October 11 2014 [Online] Accessed 14/11/16

Goodall, J. Day, C. Lindsay, G.  Muijs, D.  Harris, A. (2005) Evaluating the Impact of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Department for Education and Skills Research Report RR 659 [Online] Accessed:16/11/2016 15:25

Hood, M. (2016) ’Beyond the plateau: The case for an Institute for Advanced Teaching’ [Online]  Accessed 12/11/16

Macleod, H. Sinclair, C. Haywood, J. and Woodgate, A. (2016) Massive Open Online Courses: designing for the unknown learner, Teaching in Higher Education, 21:1, 13-24 [Online] Accessed 10/02/2017

Onah, Daniel F. O., Sinclair, Jane and Boyatt, Russell (2014) Exploring the use of MOOC discussion forums. [Online] Accessed 03/01/2017

Worth, J., Bamford, S. and Durbin, B. (2015). Should I Stay or Should I Go? NFER Analysis of Teachers Joining and Leaving the Profession. Slough: NFER. [Online] Accessed 10/02/2017

Mary Howell
20:14 on 18 February 2017

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