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"Liminal Participants and Skilled Orienteers: Learner Participation in a MOOC for New Lecturers " icon

Liminal Participants and Skilled Orienteers: Learner Participation in a MOOC for New Lecturers 

This case study explored learner participation in First Steps in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (FSLT12), a short massive open online course (MOOC) aimed at introducing learning and teaching in higher education that was offered by Oxford Brookes University in June 2012. Both novice and experienced MOOC learners joined the course. The aim of the case study was to explore triggers for active participation. A mixed-methods approach was utilized in order to collect and analyze data from focus groups, individual interviews, participant blog posts, and a survey. The lenses of social constructivism, connectivism, and community of practice theories were used to enhance understanding of participation in FSLT12. Three main themes emerged: (1) Navigation: New participants felt overwhelmed by technical issues, multiple channels, and a perceived need to multitask, while experienced learners were judicious about planning their route; (2) Transformative learning: Ultimately, learners experienced a transformative shift, but it required reflection on practice, community support, and self-organization; (3) Reciprocal Relationships: New learners needed time to determine their audience and core community, as well as to realize mutual relationships within that community. Learners in a MOOC inhabit a liminal space. Active MOOC participants are skilled orienteers. Engaging local expertise of experienced MOOC learners and developing participatory skills in new learners is a key strategy for those who organize and facilitate MOOCs.

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