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What are the expectations of disabled learners when participating in a MOOC?
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15 May 2017
Open education can provide opportunities at scale for lifelong learning amongst currently underserved populations, such as those with disabilities. In comparison to other online learning opportunities MOOCs have potentially beneficial characteristics such as: open access within a structured learning framework, low cost of learning, flexibility to allow individual planning in terms of the learner’s time and preferred pace and place, opportunities for social learning, as well as scope to gain knowledge.
Despite this potential suitability as an approach to support disabled learners, there is limited research to understand accessibility and MOOCs, and on the expectations of disabled MOOC learners. This presentation outlines a preliminary study to analyse existing pre- and post-study survey data from MOOCs offered by the Open University on the FutureLearn platform, to understand the expectations of disabled learners participating in MOOCs. The quantitative study reported in this presentation is a part of a wider research programme to investigate the current accessibility of MOOCs, the processes through which this accessibility is achieved, and the potential use of data to improve MOOC accessibility. This study aims to understand the current expectations of disabled learners when taking part in MOOCs.
Limitations to this analysis are that it was undertaken with a small number of MOOC presentations, and that a simple disability marker may not reflect diversity within the population. It should not be assumed that these results generalise to the whole of the disabled learner population, or that this population is homogenous in nature. Nevertheless, some preliminary findings and future work can be drawn for further investigation.