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


  • Julie-Ann Sime Lancaster University
  • Chrysoula Themelis Lancaster University
  • Yiannis Arapoglou Wide Services
  • Asteria Marantou Wide Services
  • Katerina Theodoridou CARDET



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


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.

Author Biographies

Julie-Ann Sime, Lancaster University

Julie-Ann is a lecturer in educational research at Lancaster University, UK, where she teaches and supervises research students undertaking an online doctoral programme in technology-enhanced learning. Her research areas are online learning, mobile learning, networked learning, visual literacies, digital wellbeing, and inclusion.

Chrysoula Themelis, Lancaster University

Chryssa is a researcher in technology-enhanced learning at Lancaster University, UK. She has 10 years’ experience of researching the use of technologies in education, including the use of visual/video literacies, mobile learning, and augmented reality

Yiannis Arapoglou, Wide Services

Yiannis is the CEO of WIDE Services, Greece.  His company offers integrated solutions in e-learning as a Moodle Premium Certified Partner.

Asteria Marantou, Wide Services

Asteria is an eLearning Officer at CEPOL. She contributes to the implementation and administration of e-learning services and new products. She is a certified project manager (PMP) with extensive experience in digital and in-class training. Her interests include new technology, gamification, video games and learning, e-learning, and customer experience.

Katerina Theodoridou, CARDET

Katerina is the Director of R&D and Project Management at the Center for Social Innovation, Cyprus, where she coordinates the organisation’s European-funded projects and coaches the project managers that undertake the research and development phases of the projects.