TEL Communities

Helen Caldwell and Anna Cox | View as single page | Feedback/Impact
TEL Communities
Definitions: Theoretical background relevant to technology facilitated social learning
Research evidence: Systematic literature reviews on the theme of technology facilitated social learning

Authentic learning within a MOOC

The hybrid MOOC included a number of characteristics of authentic learning as outlined by Herrington and Oliver (2000), and these facilitated both some of the social interactions, changing of roles and ultimately the demonstration of learning which took place. This framework is based on the proposal that usable knowledge is best gained in in learning setting which feature a number of characteristics.The characteristics that were relevant to our CoP are:

    1. Authentic contexts that reflect the way the knowledge will be used in real life
    2. Authentic activities
    3. Access to expert performances and the modelling of processes
    4. The opportunity and impact multiple roles and perspectives
    5. Support collaborative construction of knowledge
    6. Promote reflection to enable abstractions to be formed
    7. Promote articulation to enable tacit knowledge to be made explicit
    8. Provide coaching and scaffolding by the teacher at critical times

The MOOC provided authentic activities; e-tivities were designed with choice and relevance for a variety of users and institutions in mind but with a strong focus on pedagogy and learning with tablets in classrooms. By using the Google Plus platform to display a range of related finished examples, the hybrid MOOC offered participant access to expert performances and the discussions around these initial examples offered an insight into the processes involved in both creating them and how they might be best used in a classroom. The visual nature of these artefacts generated interest, discourse and engagement in the particular weekly task. The participants posting their own examples of classroom activities promoted the collaborative construction of knowledge. Many of the posts provided opportunities for coaching and scaffolding. Unlike Herrington and Oliver (2000), who suppose that this should be done by the teacher, in the hybrid MOOC the scaffolding role was taken on by both moderators and participants.  As new participants posted variants of the etivity tasks, others commented and encouraged, causing questions and further discourse to arise. In this way, the balance shifted with new participants being able to teach the more experienced members of the group.

For example, a participant who had rarely posted before, posted an example of a MyPad app but an image only and received no comments, they then added a new post with a video of the resultant artefact and received many comments:
“That's a delightful thing! I really want to use this! I suspect if I hadn't seen this example I'd have passed over this. A really great inspiration, thank you!”  

This resulted in discourse teaching others:
“I emailed the link to myself and then copied it across. When I made the clip there was the option to save it- I saved that and then copied it in.”

Participants went on to suggest additional ideas which it could be used for:
“The idea of collecting the sounds of my toys is a nice example of personalised learning. Echo Location is another tool for making soundscapes of a location, with some interesting example projects on the website”.

Such analysis of the Google + community demonstrates that the MOOC promoted reflection and articulation based on authentic activities, enabling knowledge to be made more explicit.  


Herrington, J. and Oliver, R., 2000. An instructional design framework for authentic learning environments. Educational technology research and development, 48(3), pp.23-48.

Hoadley, C.M. and Kilner, P.G., 2005. Using technology to transform communities of practice into knowledge-building communities. ACM SIGGROUP Bulletin, 25(1), pp.31-40.