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Quality Assurance and Innovation: Case Studies of Massive Open Online Courses in UK Higher Education

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Rebecca Ferguson
15 May 2017

Ahmed Al-Imarah

Literature from the wider field of management research is ambiguous with respect to the relationship between quality assurance and innovation, with some arguing that quality assurance supports innovation while others claiming it is a hindrance. The study aims to determine how quality assurance can be adopted to develop technological innovation in higher education, specifically the development MOOCs at institutions in the UK. The relationship between organizational culture and quality assurance has also studied by examining how academic culture feeds into quality assurance. That is the complexity of higher education culture may influence the implementation of quality assurance, either positively or negatively.

The study contributes to an understanding of whether MOOCs have a role in supporting higher education through the integration of their programmes. The qualitative approach is used to collect data, represented by interviews and documentation analysis. The sample of the study is chosen according to specific criteria that used to select the five cases, which are the platforms of MOOCs, age and size of universities, and the responsibility of higher education for universities

The primary finding indicates that although learners’ feedback is mostly positive, quality assurance of MOOCs is very limited. The limitation of quality assurance is indicated in several areas, such as the objectives of courses, the gap between curriculum and content of MOOCs and mainstream curriculum, the gap of pedagogy, the mechanism of learning and teaching, learning outcomes, the approval process of MOOCs. Moreover, the organizational culture constitutes a key obstacle in deepening the gap between quality assurance and MOOCs. As a result, quality assurance can hinder innovation (represented by MOOCs).

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