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Who are the mooc educators and what are their tasks? A multiple case study

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Rebecca Ferguson
15 May 2017

Tina Papathoma

People working in HE institutions and organisations related to education are learning new forms of teaching and learning practice to transform the ways they work. This study explores who the people involved in massive open online courses (moocs) are and how they describe their tasks in those courses. Data were gathered through a multiple case study involving interviews with 28 people involved in moocs. Analysis shows that educators come from different backgrounds (i.e. academics, learning designers, PhD students) with different types of expertise such as teaching, subject matter expertise and learning design expertise. Educators reported that they often collaborated in the mooc process (i.e. design, run, facilitate). However, their roles were not fixed and they often moved from one role to another. This entailed taking different responsibilities for which they may not have the expertise to work on. Some of the most common jobs educators were involved in were setting the course objectives, creation of course materials, pedagogical decisions on how the course will go live, decisions on purchasing copyright material, video presenting, and video editing. Educators reported that they often learned these tasks in practice as training was either limited or absent. In order to manage the challenges they faced in the mooc process they collaborated with each other (sociocultural knowledge) and they self-regulated by seeking advice from experts as well as observing how other moocs have run. The role expectations for educators in moocs may be very demanding. They may need to acquire a range of skills that were not required in their past experience, and they may need to collaborate with others and share each other’s expertise. Institutions, senior management and platforms may assist in that.


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