A short summary of the work in progress paper ‘What are the expectations of disabled learners when participating in a MOOC?’ which was presented at L@S: Fourth Annual ACM Conference on Learning at Scale
By Francisco Iniesto, PhD research student, Open World Learning, Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University
MOOCs are making low cost learning opportunities available at large scale to diverse groups of learners. For that reason, MOOCs need to be accessible so that they can offer flexibility of learning and benefits to all. In order to direct efforts towards developing accessible MOOCs, it is important to understand the current expectations of disabled learners.
Expectations of disabled learners
This particular study aims to understand the current expectations of disabled learners when taking part in MOOCs. To explore this, data is analysed from surveys conducted with a set of FutureLearn MOOCs that were designed and delivered by the Open University (OU). A sample of eight MOOC presentations from 2015 were selected to cover a range of subjects: The Science of Nutrition, Elements of Renewable Energy, Learn to code for data analysis, Smart Cities, The Business of film, The Lottery of Birth, Understanding Musical Scores and Get Started with Online learning.
Responses to the same pre- and post-course surveys were requested from learners across all eight MOOCs. Those completing these surveys are asked to indicate if they consider themselves to have a disability.
Our preliminary study uses this to allow comparison focussed on three key questions in the survey that can be used to understand the expectations of disabled learners from MOOCs: Why are you interested in studying this course?, Which of the following subject areas are you interested in?; and, What sort of online course have you taken?
Limitations to this analysis are that it was undertaken with a small number of MOOC presentations, and that a simple disability marker may not reflect diversity within the population. It should not be assumed that these results generalise to the whole of the disabled learner population, or that this population is homogenous in nature. Nevertheless, some preliminary findings can be drawn for further investigation:
Current and future work
Results from disabled learners are compared with those of other learners and preliminary findings are used to frame an agenda for our further work. Planned work with this data includes the following aspects:
Read the full paper written by Francisco Iniesto, Patrick McAndrew, Shailey Minocha and Tim Coughlan in Open Research Online (ORO)