Reflections on Topic 2: Open learning

The webinar by Alastair Creelman regarding openness in education tackled important issues on educators’ attitudes and enthusiasm about open learning thereby using resources already available. In the webinar Alastair raised important questions such as “How open are we to share our knowledge, our resources, our lectures, course materials, etc. for open learning? Are we willing to spend time on reinventing the wheel for every course or pedagogic activity that we want to develop? Are we willing to adopt people’s work into ours so that we can offer online education by being efficient and reuse resources already available? Certainly, open education resources provide clear vision and facilitate learning in all levels. Education resources, such as MIT OpenCourseWare, Coursera, Melort, etc., as pictured below in Alastair’s webinar, open new venues for developing online courses, as well as promote online learning.


As pointed out, many of the course materials available in these sites can be reused by other educators with the purpose to promote online learning through courses that can be offered through various educational platforms, such as those mentioned below.


Following Alastair’s webinar, we were asked to put our comments, questions, and thoughts regarding sharing resources, lecture materials, etc., using padlet, an online tool for posting comments on the web. To see our comments and questions for this topic, click here.

A major caveat on the effort towards online education is the sustainability of students and high enrollment. As teachers, lecturers, and educators are changing their pedagogic modalities to attract and keep students motivated and engaged into the classroom, they must also make their courses interesting enough to incentivize students to complete the course. In fact, for the past decade, researchers at various universities throughout the world have been trying to tackle these issues by pinpointing the possible causes for sudden halted enrollments, as well as proposing innovative approaches to boost motivation and expand online learning. For example, a recent study, titled “Social media interaction tools might make massive open online courses stickier” by researchers at Penn State University showed that social media, such as Facebook might make online courses, i.e., MOOCs, more attractive. And therefore help the growth of online education, if educators follow a similar social media arrangement in where students are constantly participating and are active online. Another study titled “Staying the course on a massive open online course”’ by researchers at the University of Warwick, Coventry, UK, explained similar issues and proposed similar approaches with social media platforms. Similarly, a study by researchers at Penn State University titled “Online courses: MOOC instructors may need more support for successful courses” described the several challenges that instructors faced throughout the course development and instruction process, which was described into three phases: preparation, implementation and feedback. Findings from these works tells us that, although online learning is attractive and it is crucial for bridging the gap, there are many limitations that need to be addressed in order to make it a successful product.



Author: Natalia V Rivera

Hello, I am a senior postdoc at the Department of Medicine Solna, Karolinska Institutet.

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