Project 2

Realising the potential of digital technology for scaling up higher education

This project was a continuation of CGHE Project 3.4, ‘The transformational potential of MOOCs,’ which found that online technologies can be effective for professional education on the large scale because, unlike students, these participants do not need personalised support.

About this project

This project developed an application of the ‘value creation’ method for evaluating the different types of impacts of MOOCs in professional work: the immediate value of knowledge/skill gain; the potential value of its application to work; the applied value of knowledge in practice; the realised value of effects on learners, patients, clients or stakeholders; and the reframing value of participants using the knowledge to reconceptualise aspects of their work or institutional context. The high volume data from the MOOC platforms studied must be generated and analysed in terms of this value creation framework.

This data was analysed to determine the extent to which these large-scale course platforms generate learner communities via discussion forums, peer review and shared activities. It reconceptualised the courses as ‘open online collaborations’, i.e. a way of harnessing and sharing the developing understandings and practices of the participating professionals. This requires further exploration and curation of MOOC-based activities for use as an enduring community resource.

The team has published several papers on the potential of MOOCs to provide large-scale access to professional development.  Project 3.4 research output led to a global coalition of higher education institutions and international development organisations, TPD@Scale, committed to large-scale teacher professional development, especially in developing countries, in order to improve access to education (SDG4). The research team continues to work within the framing of the SDGs with respect to the need for large-scale professional development.


Professor Diana Laurillard
IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society
Diana Laurillard leads CGHE Project 2, ‘Realising the potential of digital technology for scaling up higher education’. Diana is Professor of Learning with Digital Technologies, UCL Knowledge Lab. Formerly Head of the e-Learning Strategy Unit at Department for Education and Skills (2002-5); Pro-Vice Chancellor for learning technologies at the Open University (1995-2002). Recent book: Teaching as a Design Science, Routledge. Researching MOOCs, learning design, and digital games for dyscalculia.
Eileen Kennedy
IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society
Eileen Kennedy is a Principal Research Fellow at UCL Knowledge Lab, where she leads the MA in Education and Technology. Eileen researches learning design for online and blended higher education and professional development, including caring approaches to online pedagogy.