Since their inception in 2008, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have generated considerable interest in the educational research community. This interest stems from the potential that these courses offer in providing flexible, affordable, and on-demand options for learning and development in a time of instant connectivity and constant change. Despite this rise in interest and research output, there are some major blind spots within this field of research that require serious attention. Early research in this area focused on categorizations of MOOCs based on their technological and pedagogical underpinnings, with this focus moving later to issues related to learners’ experiences and patterns of engagement within a MOOC (Olazabalaga, Garrido, & Ruiz, 2016). However, this shift in focus did not extend beyond learners’ experiences and engagement within a MOOC. Many researchers have pointed out the need to examine the impact these informal learning experiences have on participants’ actual practices after they participate in a MOOC and how different design factors support or hinder the transfer of knowledge and experiences gained to real-life situations (Castaño, Maiz, & Garay, 2015; Olazabalaga et al., 2016). Some studies suggest that learners do not use the knowledge they gain in MOOCs in their jobs and that improvements in MOOC design could help remedy this problem (Mathews, 2014).
Understanding what factors in MOOC design, pedagogy, and learning activities relate to the transfer of knowledge, by examining learners’ experience after they leave a course, is an important and interesting area of study. The need to fill this gap in the literature becomes even more critical given the fast pace at which knowledge, technology tools, and job roles and responsibilities are changing —which means that traditional on-the-job professional development and training are no longer sufficient in addressing professionals’ continuing need for learning and development (Littlejohn & Milligan, 2015). Unfortunately, research in the area of informal learning is still relatively limited, especially within teachers’ professional learning literature (Gijbels, Raemdonck, Vervecken, & Van Herck, 2012; Jobe, Östlund, & Svensson, 2014; Macià & García, 2016; Manuti, Pastore, Scardigno, Giancaspro, & Morciano, 2015; Tour, 2017).
The purpose of this session is to share the effectiveness of a MOOC offered on the Canvas Open Network entitled “Humanizing Online Teaching and Learning” (HumanMOOC) by exploring the impact that this informal learning experience had on learners’ teaching and learning practices after they participated in the MOOC. The HumanMOOC covered topics on the elements of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework: social presence, teaching presence and cognitive presence (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). Our topics of inquiry were: In what ways has participating in the MOOC changed how participants perceive and enhance presence in their online courses? What factors (i.e. course design, personal, and institutional) supported or hindered the implementation of these changes in participants’ actual practice?
We asked a group of participants what they learned and how it has changed the way they teach online. In the first 15 minutes we will introduce attendees to the HumanMOOC and share our findings from our recent impact to practice study. As suggested, 5 minutes will be reserved for Q&A.
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