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MOOCs and competencies for Higher Education transformation: An activity theory analysis

MOOCs and competencies for Higher Education transformation: An activity theory analysis
MOOCs and competencies for Higher Education transformation: An activity theory analysis
Massive Open Online courses (MOOCs) have often been described as catalysts for digital transformation in Higher Education. In practice, however, MOOCs have not radically changed the educational arena in quite the way some predicted; neither have they faded away as just another educational fad. By 2019, MOOCs had secured their space in Higher Education Institutions around the globe, and promise to play a continuing role in Higher Education transformation.

Achieving digital transformation in Higher Education demands that academics develop a set of additional and complex competencies, the acquisition of which requires, in turn, both formal instruction and authentic experience. With the current competing pressures for academic productivity, it can be difficult in practice to acquire these competencies. There are, however, opportunities for professional development when engaging in innovative projects, such as MOOCs.

Under the lens of Activity Theory, this thesis aims to determine whether, and how, MOOCs contribute to professional development in HEIs. It investigates and analyses the skills and competencies acquired by academics with varying levels of expertise who undertake different roles and responsibilities in the development and deployment of MOOCs. A set of interviews were conducted, both one-to-one and in focus groups..

Participants shared their experiences as to how MOOCs have influenced their practice, and how their skills and sets of competencies set have changed as a result of their involvement in the production and deployment of MOOCs.

These skills were mapped against two popular competency frameworks in the UK: The UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF), and the JISC Digital Capabilities for academic staff in Higher Education.

The findings suggest that MOOC-related professional activity has a positive influence not only on the development of digital capabilities, but also on the engagement in transformative practices. It was also found that MOOCs contribute to the diffusion of digital and transformative cultures within institutions, by engaging the academic community, as well as professional services, in joint activities related to the provision of online learning. Certain challenges have also been reported, such as the accommodation of MOOC-related activities within the duties and responsibilities of staff, and occasional disillusionment in view of some unfulfilled promises, such as the democratisation of Higher Education.
University of Southampton
Leon Urrutia, Manuel
4c9d6ced-5e35-4f09-827b-c2e4c702df3c
Leon Urrutia, Manuel
4c9d6ced-5e35-4f09-827b-c2e4c702df3c
White, Susan
5f9a277b-df62-4079-ae97-b9c35264c146

Leon Urrutia, Manuel (2019) MOOCs and competencies for Higher Education transformation: An activity theory analysis. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 312pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Massive Open Online courses (MOOCs) have often been described as catalysts for digital transformation in Higher Education. In practice, however, MOOCs have not radically changed the educational arena in quite the way some predicted; neither have they faded away as just another educational fad. By 2019, MOOCs had secured their space in Higher Education Institutions around the globe, and promise to play a continuing role in Higher Education transformation.

Achieving digital transformation in Higher Education demands that academics develop a set of additional and complex competencies, the acquisition of which requires, in turn, both formal instruction and authentic experience. With the current competing pressures for academic productivity, it can be difficult in practice to acquire these competencies. There are, however, opportunities for professional development when engaging in innovative projects, such as MOOCs.

Under the lens of Activity Theory, this thesis aims to determine whether, and how, MOOCs contribute to professional development in HEIs. It investigates and analyses the skills and competencies acquired by academics with varying levels of expertise who undertake different roles and responsibilities in the development and deployment of MOOCs. A set of interviews were conducted, both one-to-one and in focus groups..

Participants shared their experiences as to how MOOCs have influenced their practice, and how their skills and sets of competencies set have changed as a result of their involvement in the production and deployment of MOOCs.

These skills were mapped against two popular competency frameworks in the UK: The UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF), and the JISC Digital Capabilities for academic staff in Higher Education.

The findings suggest that MOOC-related professional activity has a positive influence not only on the development of digital capabilities, but also on the engagement in transformative practices. It was also found that MOOCs contribute to the diffusion of digital and transformative cultures within institutions, by engaging the academic community, as well as professional services, in joint activities related to the provision of online learning. Certain challenges have also been reported, such as the accommodation of MOOC-related activities within the duties and responsibilities of staff, and occasional disillusionment in view of some unfulfilled promises, such as the democratisation of Higher Education.

Text
Thesis final - Version of Record
Available under License University of Southampton Thesis Licence.
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Published date: January 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 437366
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/437366
PURE UUID: 77fa5460-d2f2-4d1c-b018-d89d25174c3b
ORCID for Susan White: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9588-5275

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 24 Jan 2020 17:33
Last modified: 22 Nov 2021 02:44

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Contributors

Thesis advisor: Susan White ORCID iD

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