Community first; People at the heart of online learning, by Emily Spicer


Date of Publication: 05 June 2019

2012 was hailed the year of the Massive Open Online Course.

These courses, springing up out of the Open University (FutureLearn), Harvard and MIT (edX), Stanford (Coursera) seemed to signal the end of traditional education. Elite education was open to all. No longer was high quality content the preserve of the chosen few who had passed stringent entrance exams, held their own at admissions interviews, and – in many cases – paid hefty university fees.

I’ve written about MOOCs before. Whether you read that article or not, you can probably guess the outcome. 7 years after the ‘year of the MOOC’, the MOOC is struggling.

Before, I explored the need for connectedness; for MOOC providers (or indeed any provider of online education) to offer personal support alongside high quality content to counter the low completion rates for these courses.

This week, another approach to online learning has caught my eye; community learning. Research conducted by EdSurge found that those MOOC students who both watched course videos (shockingly almost 75% of students who sign up for a MOOC never watch a single video) and then discussed the content of the videos with other students had much more positive outcomes.

Here at Oxford Summer Courses we are passionate about peer learning; we know that students learn effectively together (and it’s more fun too). So, for our upcoming online courses we’re working hard on creating an international community for you to be part of.

But there’s another possibility here too: how about embarking on online learning with your friends?

The EdSurge article I read this week used the case study of a learner based in Belize who wanted access to high quality education. She embarked on an online course, but rather than learning solo, went on the learning journey with a group of peers she already knew. They started the online course together and along the way met up and shared ideas. They encouraged each other on the journey, and, ultimately, made the learning experience richer and more effective for one another.

MOOCs might have failed to bring the hailed change to the education system but we believe that online education can be highly effective, with the right combination of proven teaching methods, high quality content, personal touches, and a vibrant community.

So how about considering bringing your friends into your learning experience with you? When our online courses land in a few months’ time, how about signing up to our newsletter together with a few friends to be the first to hear about them, or contact us to register your interest.

Or if you can’t wait that long, you might want to consider referring a friend to one of our summer courses?

We love to create new international communities of learning, where diverse perspectives can be shared. But we also love to see existing communities built up by shared experiences, new ideas, and rich teaching. And we are passionate about the power of online learning.

* Added note: We are very pleased to announce that our online courses have now launched. Please visit the Melio Education website to find out more!


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