Five years after the first massive open online course (MOOC) was launched, there are over 300 MOOCs in Europe and over 700 outside of Europe. Furthermore, these numbers are growing.


Opening up education to all through the use of digital technology and the internet has become a potentially disruptive idea that has provoked a wide range of responses. It has also added a new dimension to existing research and discourse on topics such as e-learning, distance learning, and the use of technology in education.


Dr. Sian Bayne is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education and Associate Dean in the College of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on the changes and challenges that digital technology brings to education. In a recent interview with Open Education Europa, Dr. Bayne talked about the main challenges and opportunities of the open education field.


“I think a big challenge for academia is in working through notions of MOOC pedagogy and working as creatively as we can with the idea of how we deliver teaching at such massive scale,” said Dr. Bayne. She noted that some of the distinctions within the field are losing their validity. MOOCs are often classified as either xMOOCs (content-oriented) or cMOOCs (process-oriented), but there are now many courses that either breach the two camps or that do not fit into either one.


 “The MOOC scene now is rapidly fragmenting so it’s not really possible to talk in generic terms about single blocks for MOOC growth. We’re seeing a proliferation of MOOC design at the moment and it’s going to be interesting to see how that continues over the next couple of years.”


Dr. Bayne not only researches MOOCs; she is also one of the five professors running the MOOC, ‘E-learning and digital cultures,’ currently offered on Coursera. There are currently over 18,000 students registered for the course.


“The experience of teaching a MOOC is a very energizing teaching experience because of the scale. To have that number of people interested in something you’re interested in as a teacher and as a researcher, and actively engaging with it, is a fantastic experience.”


Interested in reading more about Dr. Bayne’s experiences teaching a MOOC? Click here to learn about how she curated the course using only open-access materials and how the course changed since its first iteration in early 2013.


Dr. Bayne will be one of the keynote speakers at the upcoming Media & Learning conference taking place in Brussels in December 2013. Registration is still open for the event. 


Area Of Interest: 

  • elearning_label_higher_education
  • elearning_label_learning_and_society