Digital Present: Innovation and MOOCs

Open University Vice-Chancellor, Martin Bean

A 7% student completion rate suggests that there is much to learn about the world of massive open online courses (MOOCs). Course providers, and students, are currently exploring how to engage with these new learning environments. So, to realise the potential of MOOCs it seems essential to foster a sharing relationship between all participants – together becoming a vibrant learning community.

The opportunities for arts and design education within the framework of these online platforms remains to be seen. As Open University Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean noted in a recent presentation about innovation and technology ‘MOOC platforms…this is a new market, it’s not defined.’ Bean explained that the Vice Chancellors of the UK universities participating in the newly announced ‘Future Learn’ MOOC see it as ‘creating disruptive innovation which they learn from and take these lessons back into the university’ – hence producing a cyclical developmental relationship. He also positions Future Learn as an ‘active lab of innovation and rapid experimentation’, and ‘a platform that ignites across UK HEIs’ at a time of significant evolution of online learning.

Posing three questions:

  • how do we bring ideas to market?
  • how can we connect people who want to share?
  • how can we make a difference in the field of educational technology?

Bean shared his eight recommendations for innovation within the educational technology sector:

  1. Be bold and have courage to challenge. Don’t take no for an answer and look for tomorrow’s problem.
  2. Get out of the blocks fast, and iterate, iterate, iterate.
  3. Get people around you involved and motivated. Ensure your colleagues buy into your idea and become stakeholders.
  4. Bring the governance of your organisation with you – have the backing of your executive board.
  5. Stick to deadlines.
  6. Be hands-on, and directly involved – don’t sit back and delegate. Innovation cannot be delegated.
  7. Enrol influential early adopters in your field as supporters to spread the word.
  8. Launch your idea with a bang – shout it from the rooftops!

Digital technologies on the move

As we see at Central Saint Martins, or anytime we travel on public transport, collectively our everyday experiences are increasingly mediated through digital technologies. In order to navigate the rapidly evolving and expanding digital world, including massive open online courses, it is vital that people are able to develop the skills, knowledge and competences to be digitally literate. In addition, for a community of online learners to thrive, the MOOC providers will need to be open and clear about their underpinning motivations, values and aspirations.

Finally, the DIAL project at UAL would be interested in creating, or contributing to, a Digital Literacy MOOC from user generated content and resources developed from its open content communities on process.arts. They hope to experiment with independently developed and openly managed online learning pathways, created and managed by interested groups and specialists. If interested in finding out more contact Chris Follows who project manages the DIAL project at UAL.


Political economy of MOOCs and Open Education

DIAL Digital Literacy MOOC aspiration

The Guardian Blog post