The interface between open online and face-to-face learning: competition or cooperation?

M Patel, S Choi, A Pulman, N Martin, M Urrutia, K Dickens, M Parmar and N Englyst

Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton

Universities traditionally offer taught courses, where students attend face-to-face sessions. Emerging learning modes include Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and we* have recently offered a MOOC on insulin, targeting an international audience. The Team includes key educators for the MSc Diabetes Best Practice.

Do we think our MOOC competes with our MSc? No! The MOOC audience was broader; 37% were health professionals, who are our target MSc audience, and 42% were social learners (people with diabetes and carers). MOOC learners were able to progress at their own pace and choose the depth of detail to learn. The discussions MOOC learners contributed clearly demonstrated substantial understanding of insulin through peer and facilitator-led learning. We recommend the MOOC to both MSc and undergraduates for learning about insulin. The MOOC was also used as an MSc marketing tool (MSc staff profiles, and directing the MOOC learners to the MSc as a follow-up course). 

So, rather than competition, there is cooperation between these different modes of learning, supporting synthesis of learning modes as the future of education.