Finland – a MOOC on individualized learning

The Finnish partners focused on implementing a MOOC – massive open online course – as a learning channel for the individualized learning approach.

The course was co-developed with MAPPING´s Welsh partner Colleg Cambria, integrating other results and findings from MAPPING. All MAPPING partners contributed with best practice cases. The online guide MAP was an integrated part of the MOOC.

Download flyer for further information and syllabus.

The target groups were professional teachers and trainers in vocational education (VET) and FE (further education, UK, IE).

The participants learned dialogical methods to develop themselves as reflective practitioners, to collaborate with other professionals and to further develop own practice.

The course ran from 13th April 2015 with a duration of 7 weeks, estimated time of commitment 2-3 hours / week.

After thorough research on suitable virtual platforms, the project group made their decision on Canvas and sent an application for this purpose on the university level. Thus, Finnish HAMK became the provider of the MAPPING MOOC.  At the same time, HAMK wanted to test future perspectives for a new business field.

The pilot course was based on dialogic and collaborative learning, entitled “Making Learning Personal: How to develop individualized approaches in Vocational Education and Training”, and giving 2 ECTS.

The course was a combination of a mOOC and cMOOC, designed  to deepen educators´ knowledge about individualization and individual study plans.

The topics of the course were

  1. Basics of individualization
  2. Dialogical guidance and scaffolding
  3. Synthesis of practices with individual study plans
  4. Sharing new ideas and ways to embed them into practice

The pedagogical script was structured into modules based on learning objectives and guidelines from the pedagogical DIANA model. The first week was used for social bonding in study groups, each of which had 3-10 participants.

The pilot was followed by research from an IT degree student elaborating his thesis of the process, and further scientific research will be undertaken in a doctorial study.

Results from test run, evaluations and further perspectives

The MAPPING MOOC is outstanding in the context of MOOCs, as it facilitated transnational study groups (each of them consisting of 6 participants, according to students´ level of study in a collaborative learning module).

Great interest in the MOOC was seen, and MAPPING´s MOOC experts were invited for several presentations, also on international scenes.

The MOOC´s evaluations showed new and excellent possibilities for exchange for those who conducted the course. The students enjoyed and benefited from the MOOC.
Critical voices ask whether MOOCs are “just a one day wonder”, are they “invented for the elite” and how can there possibly be a “reasonable outcome compared to the effort invested”? The overshadowing problem is the low accomplishment rate compared to the enrollment rate, which is a typical gap for MOOCs in general.

Thus, there was a high focus on this problem, and an external Dutch expert contributed with positive experiences from Dutch best practice solutions for MOOCs . The MAPPING experts continue working on her recommendations:

  • “Focus on learning outcomes and students´ engagement”
  • “Connect the MOOC to present events, if possible, and design the MOOC to be continued in students´ networks”
  • “Cooperate with experienced experts on online users and online behavior, such as librarians”
  • “Limit the duration of the MOOC to a short period” – example: Design small subjects during one week, with practice of one hour / day
  • “Interactivity can be created by questions and answers from the students. 10% of the students can make the MOOC interesting for all others”
  • “Start with a user-friendly session zero: How to work with a MOOC”
  • “Have a high-profile presenter on the last day”

Other recommendations from the project members referred to the business model of MOOCs. A MOOC should be seen as a part of the provider´s entire business portfolio. A MOOC is not necessarily meant to be a cash cow, but it can be designed to lead to or highlight other performances of the education institution and to create online networks as learning communities.

The logistics for a realistic sign-up should also be considered, such as: in which context can the student take the MOOC? Timing is also important. When would the MOOC need to be advertised in order to ease participation? But take care that organizing logistics doesn’t overshadow the students´ involvement.

All in all, it was concluded that it is absolutely worth continuing to work with the MAPPING MOOC. Knowledge sharing should stay in focus, and a MOOC is suitable especially for busy people and long distance learning. The learning platform needs to be improved and solutions found before the next run. The content should be even more focused, and the methodology should be sharpened even more (social learning).