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Educator spotlight: A MOOC with no gobbledegook

Professor Andy Parsons is one of the most enthusiastic educators on FutureLearn. His course, Exploring Everyday Chemistry, or in his own words “A MOOC with no gobbledegook“, has proved hugely successful not just on the platform but in terms of admissions for the University of York. 

Andy, who is also Head of Admissions for the Department of Chemistry said they are delighted with the impact and positive learner feedback, and the opportunity to engage with so many enthusiastic Chemistry students ahead of them making their UCAS applications. This includes the opportunity to use the course as a part of a distinctive Widening Participation initiative (if students living in an area with a low progression to higher education successfully complete the course, they can receive an alternative admissions offer).

From the cinematic but slightly tongue in cheek trailer to Andy’s kitchen experiments, and his recent attempt to crowdsource the world’s largest list of household chemical products, it’s clear that this is not your typical chemistry course. As Andy says “To engage MOOC learners, it is important to have a ‘face’. We tried to make the video… feel informal” and “wherever possible, we employed humour”. Andy has done a great job injecting his course with personality and creating a sense of his presence even though his time is limited. This, along with his efforts to keep the course fresh, use undergraduate mentors to actively help facilitate the course, and refine it after each run have no doubt contributed to its success.

As part of our work with Andy and The University of York, we were able to secure Andy an opportunity to write an opinion piece for EducationInChemistry where we could promote the course to a very relevant audience.

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