Learning Online - Reflection, Engagement and Motivation (LOREM): Enhancing learner engagement in the MOOC environment

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 38: Learning for Life and Work in a Complex World

July, 2015, 528 pages
Published by
T. Thomas, E. Levin, P. Dawson, K. Fraser & R. Hadgraft

Early conversations between the Library’s Research and Learning staff and lead discipline academics in the development of Monash University’s inaugural MOOCs centred around the characteristics of successful online learners, and whether participants would bring these capabilities to the course. Pedagogical considerations of how to bridge these gaps, especially given the high attrition rates in the MOOC environment, led us to create an online skills self-assessment survey tool and skills development resources for the MOOC participants. Our hypothesis is that learners who critically reflect on their capability and readiness for study in the MOOC environment, and are provided with resources and strategies to develop these skills, are more likely to stay engaged and satisfied, thus reducing attrition. Skills may then transfer to further study and more broadly to a strong academic self-concept that is vital for employability and lifelong learning. (Poce, 2014; Otten and Ohana, 2009)

As they enrolled into the MOOC, learners were invited to reflect on their readiness for study in this environment across a set of recognised skills that learners would need in order to complete the course successfully. (Andrews and Tynan, 2014; Stoter et al., 2014; Hart, 2012) The questions posed in the survey established a reflection-in-action (Schön, 1983, 1987) frame for learners across such skills as placing a value on interactive and collaborative learning, interpersonal and communication skills, and self-direction and management. Resources and strategies were made available for learners to develop their capabilities in key areas to support their progress through the course, providing learners with opportunities to return to skills development materials as needs arose. At the close of the MOOC, learners were invited to complete a post-course survey, returning to and re-evaluating their skills development experience (Boud et al., 1985), enabling reflection- on-action (Schön, 1983, 1987). Our paper explores a model for a reflective approach to skills development for successful study in the MOOC environment that can be applied by other universities to their own online courses.

Keywords: skills development, learner engagement, reflective practice