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Open access

Shirley Williams and E.J. Highwood

Abstract

Essentially social learning is a system where the learning occurs with and from others. Internet-based technologies have provided environments within which social learning can take place among very large groups covering various topics, ranging from academic to leisure.

In general MOOCs are academic-related courses offered by educational institutions, following a model of formal education, however they also take advantage of the concept of social learning, encouraging participants to learn together and from each other.

Crochet Alongs (CALs) are non-formal courses offered outside educational institutions. CALs give crocheters the opportunity to learn more about their craft within an Internet-based social learning system, while working independently on their own instantiation of a pattern released at intervals. Participants offer support to each other via social media, sometimes seeking help in overcoming problems and other times just to share success.

There is a considerable body of research into the MOOC phenomena, there is no such body of research into CALs, or other Internet-based craft courses. There are a number of similarities between MOOCs and CALs with some CALs attracting thousands of participants to freely available online courses. Contrasting MOOCs and CALs offers educationalists to explore alternatives approaches to social learning.

Open access

Tharindu R. Liyanagunawardena, Sandra Scalzavara and Shirley A. Williams

Abstract

Open badges are a digital representation of skills or accomplishments recorded in a visual symbol that is embedded with verifiable data and evidence. They are created following a defined open standard, so that they can be shared online. Open badges have gained popularity around the world in recent years and have become a standard feature of many learning management systems. This paper presents a systematic literature review of the published open badges literature from 2011 to 2015. Through database searches, searching the internet and chaining from known sources, 135 relevant peer-reviewed papers were identified from a corpus of 247 publications for this review. The authors believe this to be the first effort to systematically review literature relating to open badges. The review categorised publications while also providing quantitative analysis of publications according to publication type, year of publication and contributors. After assessing the literature suggestions for future research directions are presented, based on underrepresented areas.

Open access

Tharindu R. Liyanagunawardena, Karsten O. Lundqvist and Shirley A. Williams

Abstract

Millions of users around the world have registered on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered by hundreds of universities (and other organizations) worldwide. Creating and offering these courses costs thousands of pounds. However, at present, revenue generated by MOOCs is not sufficient to offset these costs. The sustainability of MOOCs is a pressing concern as they incur not only upfront creation costs but also maintenance costs to keep content relevant, as well as on-going facilitation support costs while a course is running and re-running. At present, charging a fee for certification seems to be a popular business model adopted by leading platform providers.

In this position paper, the authors explore possible business models for courses, along with their advantages and disadvantages, by conducting a literature study and applying personal insights gained from attending various MOOC discussion fora. Some business models discussed here are: the Freemium model, sponsorships, initiatives and grants, donations, merchandise, the sale of supplementary material, selective advertising, data-sharing, follow-on events, and revenue from referrals. This paper looks at the sustainability of MOOCS as opposed to the sustainability of MOOC platforms, while observing the tight link between them.