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xMOOC – how it applies to my practice

Home Forums Enhancement Strategies (Week 8) Pros and cons of new models (Activity 8.0) xMOOC – how it applies to my practice

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    I teach information literacy/skills to mature students who study in part-time in the evening from certificate and diplomas to UG and PG in a wide range of subjects. They are time poor and if I am lucky I may see each cohorts perhaps twice in an academic year. With this in mind the following notes are the elements that I think can be applied to my situation.


    Elements of the xMOOC approach that you think could be applicable to your context (what you’re involved in teaching, to whom, with what goals and constraints)

  • o   Problem based learning – as I teach information literacy (skills) this element would be applicable to my teaching, with quizzes, possible short (pre-recorded) videos on common areas where learners get stuck.
  • o   Role of the teacher – as a facilitator/assistant in engaging with the process rather than content driven deliverer which I tend to get stuck in when pressed for time.  The facilitator role tends to work better for adult learners as it allows for a constructive master-apprentice approach when clarifying practice.
  • o   It would be possible to make some aspect of this interactive and also collaborative by starting with learners working on individual concerns and then setting a small group research topic that they would then report back to and share findings and experiences with the whole class regarding the pros and cons.
  • o   Repurposing OER and OEM as part of the supplementary and advanced content would enhance my teaching whilst giving more options to the individual learner to direct their learning.
  • o   The goal of these sessions is to provide the learners with information literacy skills that they can use in every aspect of their lives to enhance their ability and knowledge of how to apply that knowledge and not restrict it to just when studying but see it as a lifelong ability.

    Problems you might anticipate with the approach

  • o   PBL online – Constraints would be ensuring that all learners have mastered basic IT skills and are comfortable in using IT and navigating the internet and browsers.  There are still in every cohort a number of students who struggle. That aside in focusing on the problems the necessary scaffolding can be provided to guide the learner during the process which they have to undertake individually.
  • o   Teacher as facilitator – sometimes learners want the teaching from the front and may be reluctant to accept the change. Need to be explicit about how the session would be delivered online and what expectations are of the learner and what the role of the teacher will be in this setting. Providing enough adequate resources and opportunities for relevant guidance and support to be delivered to those who need it.
  • o   Repurposing OER and OEM – Time would have to be invested and be frontloaded in finding the “correct content” that reflects the relevant subject discipline so that it is more meaningful and multiple options for differentiated learning. It cannot be under-estimated how much time this would take with the likelihood of having to produce your own resources if not successful.
David Jennings

Hi Elizabeth, Obviously I don’t know your context, but this reads like a very plausible account of the opportunities and risks associated with applying the xMOOC approach to your situation. Two follow-up questions occur to me:

  1. have you tried any of the elements of this approach – e.g. problem-based learning online – already?
  2. turning things round the other way, what do you feel are the biggest challenges you face, or the biggest changes you’d like to achieve, and do you think the xMOOC philosophy would help with them (or is it a spanner to crack a nut?)?

cheers, David


I have been toying with the idea of delivering my sessions online or as a blended option, to enable me to engage with a larger number of my potential learners. This was also one of the factors that contributed to me deciding to undertake this course as I wanted to ensure that I transformed my course design rather than just delivering it as I currently do F2F. Delivering the session as a PBL tends to engage mature students and as due to competing pressures they tend to look for support “just in time” this would enable me to provide that at a time and place that is convenient for them.

David Jennings

Thanks, Elizabeth. Please don’t take this as ‘proper’ professional advice as I’d have to spend a lot more time getting to know your set-up there, but I wonder if one thing you could usefully focus on might be how to provide “just in time” support without being dependent on you or your colleagues all the time? Is there a way you can get them to see the whole internet as a support environment – both in terms of peer advice and as an information resource? Maybe develop their self-organised learner skills by doing some guided webquests at the beginning and then encouraging them to find their own support resources after that (maybe helping them curate the resources using a shared bookmark system)? This might give you more scope, and a more clearly defined role, in delivering f2f elements or developing other online materials.

Just a thought, and please forgive me if I’ve misread your situation.

Kathrine Jensen

I was struck by the ‘just in time’  issue as well.  I think it is quite challenging to be the support and I remembered the keynote from PELeCOn by Joyce Seitzinger which was about how she focuses on getting staff to develop a personal learning network which can be a sort of  ‘just in time’ support. She recognised that she could not offer development, training and support for all the tools…

I found it interesting to watch


Hi Elizabeth,

I was really interested to read your ideas here as I’ve been asked to put in a training event for my HE colleagues in my f2f institution to help them get at least one module per course online by September. Most of my colleagues are familiar with IT (I think….) but I was intending to put the training in an interactive PDF like a tiny little cMOOC (or would that be xMOOC..??)and ask them to undertake parts that they liked or found necessary in small – possible programme team – groups. As you suggest I felt that this might be a support network. They would be working away from me in their own time (perhaps within one day). I’m a bit surprised to find myself doing this training but the potential issues that you have raised are helpful. I felt that if they were finding out about designing online materials by undertaking online leanrning it might be useful – but I am wondering how this will pan out!! Any thoughts?




Thanks for the feedback and the suggestion. I agree that I do need to also provide that element of them creating their own personal learning network and your suggestion would be an engaging way to achieve that. Building on the webquest that I have already designed this would be a logical next step. We already have a substantial list of resources that are freely available so examples could be given to get the ball rolling. I like the curation and use of shared bookmark suggestion, in sharing their findings it would result in a win-win situation for all concerned. With the learners being co-creators and my role that of facilitator.



Many thanks for the link it was extremely useful, in echoing issues and possible solutions.


Dear Sancha,

I can tell that you were not expecting to have to do this – I totally understand. I think that it is worth doing it the way you have suggested especially if they have not experienced that environment before. They will then get a firsthand experience of what it is like to be a learner in that environment and that is valuable. Possibly you could get them to keep a log of what they have picked up or realised as they participate as a learner: the issues, confusion, what works and does not, what would have helped – all should be recorded somewhere (Google shared drive anonymised amongst the groups). These could then be consulted at next stage of designing as a group – are there similar issues with all participants, how can these be resolved/addressed/be mitigated in the design of the course and activities therein.

I hope this helps and do get back to me if you want to discuss some more.


In response to previous postings in this thread, the xMOOC model has much to offer. We teach mature online distance learners on postgraduate courses and the PBL approach can be effective as long as the groups have gelled and they abide by a set timescale. If group members fail to log in and others are left dangling it can create tensions.

I don’t want to reiterate what has already been said about the model but to link to earlier postings, we have found that running workshops with the agenda dictated by attendees does wonders for engagement. For example, when having to create a website, I asked teachers to list all the gripes they had about any site they visited and this then led to the creation of an ‘ideal website’ – easily accessible, no more than three clicks etc. This became the prototype for the new web page we developed and the fact that tutors had ownership led to positive engagement and a clear sense of ownership. More recently I was tasked with developing an online tutor induction. Again, I sought input on what we wanted from online tutors, what skills they needed, what knowledge and understanding and also which VLE tools and open source services we would expect them to utilise for which purposes. It also explred the rolem of the online tutor as opposed to face to face  and how to facilitate rather than ‘teach’ . Much of the reviews as it was piloted involved adding ‘just in time’ training and updates which kept the material current and , above all, relevant.

The results guided our content, approach, framework and tasks and has been extremely well received. It was a team effort and as such has been accepted across the team.

We still have much to learn but  the online tutors are beginning to develop a network of practice and to share peer feedback on suggestions, resources – especially OERs and approaches for dealing with issues of interest or concern, particularly with a lack of confidence in using synchronous communication methods,



David Jennings

Thanks, Angela – an interesting account of what I believe they call ‘co-creation’ in the jargon. Do you think this is particularly applicable to xMOOCs or more generally applicable to all kinds of interventions with mature online distance learners and tutors?

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