Designing a Social Exploration MOOC - Visual Literacies: Exploring Educational Practices and Technologies

Julie-Ann Sime, Chrysoula Themelis, Yiannis Arapoglou, Asteria Marantou, Katerina Theodoridou


Social exploration is the key to how ideas spread through networks (Pentland, 2014).  When people talk with others outside their immediate group, they can bring fresh ideas into the group leading to improved outcomes.  So, to improve impact on educational practice we should increase communications within the professional community as well as increase the knowledge and competences of individual professionals.  To improve social exploration opportunities for educators, we have developed a massive open online course (MOOC) with a technology-enhanced learning perspective on Visual Literacies.  The two main challenges were to: gather content suitable for a multi-disciplinary audience; and design a MOOC that supports social exploration.  The content was derived from analysis of interviews with 21 experienced educators about their use of visuals in education and communication.  The educators came from a wide variety of disciplines and educational settings thereby offering multi-disciplinary case studies.  The design of the ‘social exploration MOOC’ is based on Networked Learning theory, a pedagogical approach that emphasises openness, democratic relationships between teachers and learners, and support for diversity and inclusivity of participants.  Participants can explore the MOOC content, share ideas and reflect on their own practice in a learning community that emphasizes sharing and discussion.  Issues of engagement, drop-out, completion and retention rates are discussed in this descriptive case study using learning analytics and feedback from participants on their experience.  The design of the MOOC promoted strong engagement and retention rates with the live webinar, in particular, enhancing participation, discussion and a feeling of community amongst participants.


MOOCs; social physics; online learning; networked learning theory; technology-enhanced learning.

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Copyright (c) 2020 Julie-Ann Sime, Chrysoula Themelis, Ioannis Arapoglou, Asteria Marantou, Katerina Theodoridou

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Journal of Open Flexible and Distance Learningthe journal of the Flexible Learning Association of New Zealand (FLANZ).
ISSN (Print until 2010): 1179-7665 ISSN (Online): 1179-7673