Your institution may have identified demand for open courses from market research or may have decided that open courses are an appropriate business model. The rise of high-profile MOOCs and the development of the UK Futurelearn platform have resulted in many institutions developing open courses.
Our blog post on MOOCs and open courses describes some of the different kinds of open course models.
xMOOC courses can be attractive as an online learning proposition as they are high profile, present existing content such as lectures via videos, and require minimum staff input on discussion forums. Although expensive to set up initially, they can be re-run at a much lower cost.
They also tend not to disrupt existing courses, and can be a way to promote certain educators and their 'paid for' courses.
Not all open courses follow the xMOOC model described above, and there are alternatives that focus on connectivist principles. Not all open courses are 'massive', and there are smaller scale collaborative open courses.
Some of these open courses are aimed at educators and offer an opportunity to consider and discuss new and different pedagogies with peers around the world. They also provide an experience of being an open online student.
Open online class examples
Examples of open online classes for undergraduates include a digital storytelling course known as 'ds106' at the University of Mary Washington in the US and the open media classes at the University of Coventry.
Both of these courses adopt a connectivist approach for an open online experience that augments a traditional face-to-face course. They have had significant interest from education professionals all over the world, who have emulated and adopted this approach in all kinds of institutions.
The Coventry open classes had such a positive impact that the university has since developed a fully open online masters course.
Their open media classes had a useful set of principles that supported curriculum design for their open online classes. This became a departmental policy approved by senior managers which included:
- The tactical use of technologies – taking into account mobile media and the convergence of student and institutional technologies
- Engaging students with the discipline and the changing media professional landscape
- The need to reconfigure teaching spaces to encourage activity rather than passive listening, to encourage students to see themselves as practitioners while they are learning
- Promoting visibility of the university, academics and students by engaging visiting speakers, and with students being visible to communities of practice while they are still learning
- Working collaboratively as a principle supported by reconfigurable working spaces, technologies and teaching approaches.
Your institution might have adopted open approaches to developing content, such as open educational resources (OER), or may have some elements of openness in online classes. If your institution plans to incorporate open online approaches, it will need to engage staff in the benefits and make sure that it provides appropriate training and support.
Our technology and tools for online learning guide considers technological aspects of open learning.
|Barriers||What you can do|
|Difficulties adapting existing curricula for an open online context||Provide staff training and support|
|Establish champions across the institution|
|Share existing good practice across the institution|
|Learn from external institutions|
|Staff are wary of legal issues around open licences||Identify or appoint experts within the institution|
|Use good examples from other institutions|
|Cultural barriers to opening up educational practice||Develop open policies and strategies to encourage staff to be open|
|Recognise and reward open practice in staff appraisal and development|
|Include open practice in new job descriptions and recruitment mechanisms|