MOOCs, learning designers and the unbundling of educator roles in higher education
In university educational technology projects, collaborations with external partners pose a range of opportunities and challenges. Educational projects are often associated with unbundling of conventional higher education roles though there is limited empirical work in this area. This is particularly the case with massive open online courses (MOOCs), where further research is needed into the production of courses and the roles of those who produce them. This study investigated the extent to which conventional roles of academics are unbundled during MOOC production partnerships between universities and an external MOOC platform provider. The findings indicate that aspects of conventional educator roles are substantially unbundled to learning designers and other seemingly peripheral actors. Unbundling is partially driven by pragmatic decisions shaping course production processes which need to accommodate the massive and open properties of MOOCs, the nature of cooperation agreements with external platform providers and the reputational risk associated with such public ventures. This study adds to empirical knowledge on the unbundling of roles in online learning projects, and the findings have relevance for those involved in decision-making, planning and development of such projects in higher education.
Implications for practice or policy:
- Managers of online learning projects could use these insights to inform recruitment or training of learning designers (e.g., instructional designers, educational designers).
- Managers of online learning projects could use these insights to inform planning and decision making for projects involving external partners and collaborations.
- Learning designers could use these insights to help plan for online learning projects which involve open content, massive numbers of participants, high-profile collaborations.
Copyright (c) 2020 Steven White, Su White, Kate Borthwick
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