Dr. Ahmed Mohamed Fahmy Yousef


Effective Design of Blended MOOC Environments in Higher Education

Over the past five years, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have a remarkable ability to expand access to a large scale of participants worldwide, beyond the formality of the higher education systems. MOOCs have unique features that support a movement toward a vision of lifelong and on-demand learning for those who are working full time or have taken a break from formal education. Despite their popularity and the large scale participation, a variety of concerns and criticism in the use of MOOCs have been raised. The original concept of MOOCs that aims at breaking down obstacles to education for anyone, anywhere and at any time is far away from the reality. In fact, most MOOC implementations so far still follow a top-down, controlled, teacher-centered, and centralized learning model. Endeavors to implement bottom-up, student-centered, truly open, decentralized, and distributed forms of MOOCs are exceptions rather than the rule.

Moreover, the lack of human interaction is the major limitation of the existing MOOCs. Other limitations of MOOCs include pedagogical problems concerning assessment and feedback, the lack of interactivity around the video content, as well as the complexity and diversity of MOOC participants. Furthermore, a major problem with MOOCs is the ignorance of the importance and benefits of face-to-face communication. These limitations raise some serious concerns on what role MOOCs should play, or how they should fit into the higher education landscape as an alternative model of teaching and learning and a substantial supplement.

Therefore, the aim of this dissertation is to shine new light to address these limitations. The new design paradigm of blended MOOCs (bMOOCs) that aim at bringing in-class (i.e. face-to-face) interactions and online learning components together as a blended environment can resolve some of the hurdles facing standalone MOOCs. In fact, the bMOOCs model has the potential to foster student-centered learning, provide effective assessment and feedback, support the interactive design of the video lectures, consider the different patterns of participants in the MOOC, as well as bring the benefits of face-to-face interactions into the MOOC environment.

This project followed the case study research methodology and the user-centered design approach, in order to design, implement, and evaluate the L2P-bMOOC platform. The main contributions are: a theoretical framework that compile and analyze the accumulated literature that has been conducted on Video-Based Learning and MOOCs between 2008 and 2015, a cluster of different patterns of MOOC stakeholders to build a deeper and better understanding of their behaviors, a design dimension and criteria catalogue for effective bMOOC environments, the conceptualization and implementation of the L2P-bMOOC platform, an evaluation procedure for usability and effectiveness of bMOOCs, and opportunities for future work in the area of bMOOCs that will support communication between researchers as they seek to address the challenges of bMOOCs.