Abstract: 

The rapid rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has renewed interest in the broader spectrum of open online teaching and learning. This “renaissance” has highlighted the challenges and potential associated to the design of such educational environments.

 

Arguably, the accelerated expansion of open online education creates risks for pedagogical quality and the learner experience. We are witnessing a wealth of different approaches to the delivery, pedagogy, functionalities and support mechanisms for Open Online Learning. Some have these have been successful and others not so successful and consequently we find a pressing need to articulate, share and critique design knowledge in this field.

 

Design patterns and pattern languages have been proposed as effective means to facilitate rigorous discourse, bridging theory and practice. The patterns paradigm was proposed by Christopher Alexander as a form of design language within architecture. A design pattern describes a recurring problem (or design challenge), the characteristics of the context in which it occurs, and a possible method of solution. Patterns are organized into coherent systems called pattern languages where patterns are related to each other and thus offer a toolkit of interrelated  design solutions that can be applied to novel problems.

 

Some of the key questions considered by the papers in this issue are underpinned by a desire to understand the design processes and mechanisms by which we come to create and deliver open online learning at scale and by extension how we can formulate this into sharable design solutions that can be applied by others.
 

The papers in this issue respond to this challenge in a variety of ways. First, Hatzipanagos offers a review of the MOOC literature and asks what MOOCs contribute to discussion of learning design. He concludes by providing an example mapping of the identified learning characteristics with a number of MOOC design patterns. Salvador and Scupelli highlight the importance for collaboration in the pattern production process. They describe a data driven pattern production methodology and a supporting open repository for patterns in the domain of online learning system design. Lackner et al. use a learning analytics perspective of participant activity in MOOCs to suggest three design patterns to combat high drop-out rates. Next, Littlejohn and Milligan provide a view of MOOCs targeted at professional learners. They identify a gap around self-regulated learning and in response provide a set of five patterns to help support MOOC design for self-regulation. Mor and Warburton then describe the outputs of the Design Patterns Project that utilised the participatory pattern workshop methodology. They demonstrate the usefulness of this approach through three practical patterns for active and collaborative learning. Koppe examines the value of using an externally hosted MOOC for use in a flipped classroom setting. This paper uses three interlinked patterns to demonstrate how this can be achieved. In their paper on peer interaction, Liyanagunawardena et al. focus on discussion fora and draw from seven separate design narratives to present three patterns for facilitating meaningful discussion when the number of participants is large. In the final paper Dacko et al. take an alternative but complementary design approach and draw on a particular design methodology to show how it can be used the sphere of inclusive e-learning to create a cohesive and unified solution.

 

It is clear from the papers presented within this issue that we have a rich community of researchers, developers and practitioners grappling with the design issues generated by the continued expansion in open online course development. It is exciting to see authors building on the roots of traditional distance education research and extending this into new territories that forefront sharing design knowledge as a mechanism to solve the particular challenges that are presented by learning and teaching at scale.

The rapid rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has renewed interest in the broader spectrum of open online teaching and learning. This “renaissance” has highlighted the challenges and potential associated to the design of such educational environments.

Arguably, the accelerated expansion of open online education creates risks for pedagogical quality and the learner experience. We are witnessing a wealth of different approaches to the delivery, pedagogy, functionalities and support mechanisms for Open Online Learning. Some have these have been successful and others not so successful and consequently we find a pressing need to articulate, share and critique design knowledge in this field.

 

Design patterns and pattern languages have been proposed as effective means to facilitate rigorous discourse, bridging theory and practice. The patterns paradigm was proposed by Christopher Alexander as a form of design language within architecture. A design pattern describes a recurring problem (or design challenge), the characteristics of the context in which it occurs, and a possible method of solution. Patterns are organized into coherent systems called pattern languages where patterns are related to each other and thus offer a toolkit of interrelated  design solutions that can be applied to novel problems.

 

Some of the key questions considered by the papers in this issue are underpinned by a desire to understand the design processes and mechanisms by which we come to create and deliver open online learning at scale and by extension how we can formulate this into sharable design solutions that can be applied by others.
 

The papers in this issue respond to this challenge in a variety of ways. First, Hatzipanagos offers a review of the MOOC literature and asks what MOOCs contribute to discussion of learning design. He concludes by providing an example mapping of the identified learning characteristics with a number of MOOC design patterns. Salvador and Scupelli highlight the importance for collaboration in the pattern production process. They describe a data driven pattern production methodology and a supporting open repository for patterns in the domain of online learning system design. Lackner et al. use a learning analytics perspective of participant activity in MOOCs to suggest three design patterns to combat high drop-out rates. Next, Littlejohn and Milligan provide a view of MOOCs targeted at professional learners. They identify a gap around self-regulated learning and in response provide a set of five patterns to help support MOOC design for self-regulationMor and Warburton then describe the outputs of the Design Patterns Project that utilised the participatory pattern workshop methodology. They demonstrate the usefulness of this approach through three practical patterns for active and collaborative learning. Koppe examines the value of using an externally hosted MOOC for use in a flipped classroom setting. This paper uses three interlinked patterns to demonstrate how this can be achieved. In their paper on peer interactionLiyanagunawardena et al. focus on discussion fora and draw from seven separate design narratives to present three patterns for facilitating meaningful discussion when the number of participants is large. In the final paper Dacko et al. take an alternative but complementary design approach and draw on a particular design methodology to show how it can be used the sphere of inclusive e-learning to create a cohesive and unified solution.

 

It is clear from the papers presented within this issue that we have a rich community of researchers, developers and practitioners grappling with the design issues generated by the continued expansion in open online course development. It is exciting to see authors building on the roots of traditional distance education research and extending this into new territories that forefront sharing design knowledge as a mechanism to solve the particular challenges that are presented by learning and teaching at scale.


ePaper Articles: 

  • What do MOOCs contribute to the debate on learning design of online courses?
  • Towards an open, collaborative repository for online learning system design patterns
  • MOOCs as granular systems: design patterns to foster participant activity
  • Designing MOOCs for professional learners: Tools and patterns to encourage self-regulated learning
  • Practical Patterns for Active and Collaborative MOOCs: Checkpoints, FishBowl and See Do Share
  • Patterns for Using Top-level MOOCs in a Regular University
  • Design patterns for promoting peer interaction in discussion forums in MOOCs
  • Making it Personal: Understanding the Online Learning Experience to Enable Design of an Inclusive, Integrated e-Learning Solution for Students
Editorial Number: 
42
eLearning Authors: 
Tapio Koskinen
yish
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