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

Example 3: Teaching with Tablets (TWT) MOOC

TWT imageA 7 week structured programme of browsing and eTivities (See  hosted in Blackboard Open Education together with a G+ community (

Based on six themes from a book: Exploring apps, Manipulating Media,Visible Learning, Technology Outdoors, Digital Storytelling,Talk and Collaboration.


The first MOOCs (Stacey, 2014), now termed cMOOCs, used a social constructivist pedagogy where participants developed a shared understanding of the topic simultaneously with forming a community of practice around the subject, but these MOOCs are sometimes considered too open-ended and wooly (Nkuyubwatsi, 2013). Other MOOCs, termed xMOOCs, have adopted a much more didactic approach where students read or watch pre-prepared material and complete automatically-marked exercises. Predictably, xMOOCs have sometimes been criticised for being too directive.

There is a range of pedagogic approaches between these two extremes and there is potential to adopt a nuanced design that navigates these poles in a way that is appropriate for the audience and subject (Conole, 2013). Again, the pedagogic approach taken in a MOOC will have a significant on the design of the course.

Much of the content for this MOOC was drawn from the book Teaching with Tablets (Caldwell & Bird, 2014) and was intended to allow practising educators to translate current theory into classroom practice. The MOOC was an extension of that idea, with the intent to develop a community of practitioners sharing and learning from each other's practice.

The MOOC used an innovative, hybridised design that combined features of both x- and cMOOCs in a ‘structured connectivism’ approach that sought to harness the acknowledged power of learning in social settings with the power of a structured design. Online synchronous interactions were combined with asynchronous interactions, and participants were encouraged to collaborate and share examples of their developing practice in an online community space.

(Smith, Caldwell and Richards, 2016).