About the project

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Innovative MOOC design to support multi-level teaching with tablets

Our project will create an innovative MOOC for educators at all levels on how to make effective use of iPads and tablets. The MOOC design will explore the advantages of ‘hybrid MOOCs’ and develop University expertise in the design of open online courses. It will be informed by the new models of social, mobile and online teaching and learning that the university is trialling. The project will provide CPD in the field of digital literacy for all staff and will be relevant to teachers at any level. It will form an OER resource that can be repurposed for future CPD and teacher education programmes.


To provide staff development and training in mobile learning.

To explore innovative MOOC design as a CPD delivery mechanism to attract participants to UoN programmes, reach a wider audience, and produce adaptable, multi-use resources.


  • To create an innovative MOOC that prepares educators to use tablets effectively in their teaching.
  • To create a re-useable artefact that can be repurposed for CPD, research and teaching.
  • To add to the research base on MOOC design and on learning within online communities.
  • To demonstrate the viability of the approach to widening University of Northampton CPD participation and explore the benefits of an open online resource.


The use of mobile devices in education is increasing rapidly and is likely to continue to grow (Ally, 2009). As the current mobile learning initiative within the School of Education (Apps for Innovation) demonstrates, new technology poses challenges to teachers in that it requires new approaches to teaching and learning (Luckin, 2010). To ensure mobile devices enhance learning rather than distract from it, teachers need timely guidance on these new approaches. The potential audience for this guidance is substantial, cutting across Higher Education, Secondary and Primary Education as tablets are used at all levels. Traditional CPD, based on seminars and workshops, would reach only a small proportion of this potential audience, whereas using a MOOC would increase accessibility, giving learners more control over the space, place and pace of their learning. For this reason, MOOCS were named an ‘innovating technology’ with high potential in the annual Open University report of that name (Sharples et al., 2014). MOOCs however, have their critics. Those based on an instructionist model, are accused of being too directive (often referred to as xMOOCs) whereas others, based on a connectivist model of knowledge being created in a social setting (cMOOCs), are accused of being too open-ended and woolly (Nkuyubwatsi,2013). Conole (2013) suggests MOOCs should be more nuanced in design and this project will use an innovative, hybridised design that combines features of both x- and cMOOCs in a ‘structured connectivism’ approach. This seeks to harness the acknowledged power of learning in social settings with the power of a structured design. Online synchronous interactions will be designed into the MOOC alongside asynchronous interactions, and participants will be encouraged to collaborate and share examples of their developing practice in an online community space. The MOOC content will be drawn from the book Teaching with Tablets, (Caldwell & Bird, 2014) and will enable educators to translate current theory into classroom practice. Themes covered will include:

  • Manipulating media
  • Visible learning
  • Technology outdoors
  • Digital storytelling
  • Talk and collaboration
  • Creating your own apps

The MOOC will build upon the School of Education Apps for Innovation project’s focus on a limited pallet of core apps that facilitate the creation, collaboration, curation, and capture of content.

The MOOC will run for six weeks and be open to educators at all levels, from HE to Primary, from NQTs to experienced practitioners. A recent MOOC developed by the proposer with DfE funding demonstrated the viability and appeal of the ‘hybrid’ approach, with over 400 enrolments. The proposed project will extend this initial work, carrying out a deeper analysis of the MOOC through content and network analysis. The proposed MOOC will not only explore an innovative approach to MOOC development, it will form a valuable, re-useable resource. A model for self-sustaining MOOCs will be trialled through the option to develop revenue through paid-for completion certificates.


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