Virtual Rome: Professor Matthew Nicholls
"[I was motivated to create a MOOC because] I had already overseen the creation of a number of MOOCs as Director of Online Courses at Reading, so I knew about the capabilities of the FutureLearn platform and the sort of learning environment that we could create there. I was also very keen to bring my 3D model of ancient Rome to a large audience, extending previous outreach work I had done, and to do so in an online context that would allow the best way of exploring the digital assets it could create.
[I found the design process] hard work, but good fun. The Online Courses team helped a lot, setting up the framework of the course, making useful suggestions for content, adding expertise about what works in MOOCs, and helping to commission animations and timelines from Reading students to enrich the course. Producing the digital assets, articles, films, quizzes, and ideas for the MOOC was undoubtedly a fair amount of work, but it was all thoroughly enjoyable and helped me frame my work in new ways and to get the best out of existing assets. Working with a professional film company was also very valuable - they added a lot of great creative ideas to provide extra polish to the course films and animations.
Around 30,000 people have taken the course, and their active engagement and nice comments have made the process hugely worthwhile. This has also helped contribute to my REF impact case study, has generated various enquiries from school teachers, publishers, and broadcasters, and has provided a huge dataset of learner comments that - via a UROP placement - I am turning into an article on public responses to 3D digital cultural heritage. The whole experience has been tremendously positive, one of the best things I have done in my career to date."
Heart Health: Dr Natasha Barrett
"Technology has enabled thousands of people from diverse backgrounds access to university quality education. Applying Bloom’s Theory (1956) to massive-classes (>5000), of independent-learners, is challenging. As lead-educator of the interdepartmental team (SBS and SCFP) for the ‘Heart Health’ MOOC I was not to be deterred, developing innovative home-practicals for our students to apply the theory covered (in a safe, accessible, cheap way). 92% of students reported that the home-practicals were an enjoyable way to learn and enhanced their understanding (post-course questionnaire, Sept 2015). Whilst the impact on the participants is clear, the course has also impacted on SBS, with many UCAS applicants citing the course. The University also benefits with 92% of participants reporting increased awareness of UoR’s research into heart health."
Begin robotics: Professor Richard Mitchell
"We created Begin Robotics, following the success of Begin Programming, as a recruitment tool – and then the Uni shut down the robotics course!! We still talk about it, and show aspects of it at open days for Computer Science. We also run it at the same time as Robotics is ‘taught’ in Part 1, and ask our students to enrol on the course. It is then integrated in the assessment regime for the Part 1 module.
I have two publications from it, showing its worth:
- Mitchell, R. J. (2018) Using ‘begin robotics' in undergraduate teaching. In: 2018 UKACC 12th International Conference on Control (CONTROL), 5-7 Sep 2018, Sheffield, UK, pp. 444-449.
- Mitchell, R. (2016) Introducing control in an open online course. In: 2016 UKACC 11th International Conference on Control, 31 Aug - 2 Sep 2016, Belfast. (ISBN: 9781467398916)
It is part of TEL as far as I am concerned, and the interactive web pages I developed for it have been used extensively in my teaching. I have talked about these on occasions. I also used screencasts a lot.
The design process was reasonably straightforward, building on the then robotics and cybernetics material in Part 1. We then had a lot of fun filming our robots – hence the ‘robots behaving badly’ outtakes at the end. Being filmed for the videos at the start of each week was an interesting experience – which took a bit of getting used to – very different from talking in a lecture – also a lot of outtakes! – but has given me confidence to do more of the same."