CGHE seminar 85

Investigating the transformative potential of MOOCs for professional development on the large scale

  • Thursday, 05 Jul 2018 12:30 - 14:00
  • Committee Room 1, UCL Institute of Education
  • Diana Laurillard, UCL Institute of Education
  • Eileen Kennedy, UCL Institute of Education


UK higher education shares a responsibility to tackle the enormous challenges of meeting the worldwide demand for higher education. One area where demand is growing, and for which the UCL Institute of Education has a long tradition of support, is teacher education.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 4 identified a need to produce 68 million new teachers by 2030 in order to meet the goal of universal basic education, primarily in the global south. More broadly, the effects of digital innovations on work and skills are barely understood as yet, but will certainly generate massive demand for professional development in a range of other areas of higher education.

How might higher education meet this challenge? We argue for a new approach to exploiting the digital technologies now capable of supporting professional development on the global scale.

The seminar will invite discussion of our current project activities to assess the potential of new types of large-scale online pedagogies, e.g.:

  • (i) quantitative analysis of alternative methods of online collaborative learning and formative assessment through peer review, and
  • (ii) qualitative data on participants’ experiences of these methods.

These are being explored by using our current MOOCs and blended learning sessions as research tools. Data capture methods include large-scale quantitative and qualitative data via the platform, and small-scale intensive interviews with volunteer participants.

The early evidence is that large-scale online pedagogies and assessment could be viable for professional development, with further iterative co-design to develop the full potential of these methods.

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Diana Laurillard

Diana Laurillard

Professor Diana Laurillard is a CGHE Co-Investigator and Professor of Learning with Digital Technologies at the UCL Knowledge Lab. She is formerly Head of the e-Learning Strategy Unit at the Department for Education and Skills (2002-05); Pro-Vice Chancellor for learning technologies at the Open University (1995-2002); and a member of the Dearing Committee. Her research includes large-scale online communities of teacher-designers, and the use of specialised digital course design tools to enable teachers to create and share new pedagogies for using learning technology. Her most recent book is Teaching as a Design Science (Routledge).

Eileen Kennedy

Eileen Kennedy

Dr Eileen Kennedy is a CGHE Senior Research Associate and a Senior Research Associate with the RELIEF centre at UCL. Her research centres on scaling up practice in online and blended learning, including developing learning design tools, creating teacher communities online (e.g. via MOOCs) and researching the experience of learning and teaching online. At the RELIEF centre, Eileen is investigating the potential of scaling up online learning to create inclusive prosperity in the context of mass displacement.

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