In the back of my mind, every time I think about MOOCs, both within my institution or because of the articles I have been adding to my resources on Scoop.it, I’m constantly drawn to the issue of  QA.  How does a Faculty/Institution, know who is offering a MOOC in their name?  And by what process or measure can we assure the quality of that MOOC in line with the campus based offer?  Annoying as this may be, I think these are questions that we need to consider if offering a course, by whatever means, to whomever.  Its just a matter of quality and, in turn, reputation.

The second part of my week was spent at the CRA Residential, which I will probably blog about via the CITE website.  However, I thought that I would add here a question that cropped up during the two days I was there.  On Friday there was a talk from the QAA about how they recognise the awards that are given to students as part of the co-curricular activity that they may get involved in.  Things like a Vice Chancellors award, a Employability Award etc.  Now, these are not credit bearing but they said that they were interested because of the impact on the student experience.

My question, was “If these non credit bearing awards are of interest to the QAA, why not MOOCs?”   I did go and speak to them afterwards to ask them and they said that as long as a MOOC was not offering credit, although they do represent UK Higher Education, they wouldn’t be interested in particular (other than the reputation part) however, I then asked what about blended learning and MOOCs?  What if, you took a MOOC (from Coursera for example) and then asked your on campus students to enrol? This has happened to many in the US already.   My research has led me to Doug Fisher, who spoke at the ALT conference in November.  He has just written a paper about ‘Wrapping’ the MOOC around his course.  He was not alone.  There are at least three others within my research that took a similar approach.   In the US, their programmes are different, QA is not the same.  But in the UK, if you offer a course that leads to an award for that institution, then all of it, no matter where the course is from, would be of interest to the QAA.

Blended learning and MOOCs are what I see as a huge benefit of MOOCs.  So when preparing a MOOC in the UK, the advice would be to ensure that you follow traditional processes for approval of modules, then at the very least, there won’t be any nasty surprises should the QAA come a knocking’.

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