Reuse of MOOCs: bringing online content back to the classroom

Alan Dix

Talis, Birmingham, UK
and School of Computer Science, Universty of Birmingham

Work to be presented at Alt-C 2015, Manchester, 8-10 September 2015


Despite the hype, MOOCs clearly have potential social and educational benefits, as well as being good PR.  However, free to use resources are costly to produce (Houston, 2015) and, to be sustainable, they need clear business models. 
In parallel there has been pressure for many years to use more digital/online resources in higher education, albeit often been due less to pedagogy than to ill-informed notions that electronic 'delivery' will save money.  However, this has now largely shifted to a desire to improve student experience, especially in light of students who are increasingly 'digital natives'. 

Re-use of learning resources has long been recognised as crucial to digital educational experience, with long-standing research in learning-objects and standards such as SCORM.  While this has led to substantial projects and repositories such as Jorum (, the most widely re-used materials are still textbooks and their associated learning materials.

Early MOOCs were often produced as a by-product of, or alongside, traditional classroom teaching, and early projects such as Classroom2000/eClass showed the potential for lecture-capture technology (Abowd, 1999).  Whether produced in this way, or developed 'digital first', MOOC resources, comprising relatively small and self-contained units, may be ideal for re-use as part of classroom-based blended learning or 'flip classroom'.  In addition, lessons from MOOCs, particularly on the use of analytics, may be valuable (Seaton, 2013).

When we developed a small-scale MOOC in 2013, one aim was to explore the potential to re-use materials created for online delivery within a traditional setting.  So, when we delivered a face-to-face course last year, the MOOC materials were re-used in flip and blended modes. 

We used a technology platform being piloted as part of a Talis project, code named Lighthouse. A 'universal content player' enabled the collection of fine grained traces of student activity including particular pages viewed, portions of a video played, dwell time, and pauses.  This allows detailed behavioural analytics, but not outcome evaluations.  Even more difficult is the evaluation of ease of re-use for the academic; for this we are looking to share experiences and data with academics across different institutions both Project Lighthouse pilots and those using other platforms.

Some aspects worked well, notably the use of learning analytics to monitor out-of-class activity.  However, it was evident that the unit size of videos was still too large.  Ferriday (2015) showed how breaking videos down increased student engagement; also smaller segments may be more re-usable for different curricula.  There is a clear need to create and share fine grain resources such as individual slides, or portions of longer videos.

If MOOCs are to survive, they need to be financially viable.  Creation and use in conjunction with mainstream higher education may be a path to sustainability.

Keywords: MOOC, flip classroom, blended learning, OER, educational resources, learning analytics

Reuse of MOOCs: bringing online content back to the classroom from Alan Dix


  1. Abowd, G. (1999). "Classroom 2000: An Experiment with the Instrumentation of a Living Educational Environment," IBM Systems Journal 38(4): 508–530.

  2. Ferriday, R. (2015). "Innovative Lecture Capture," INTED 2015.

  3. Kerr, J., Houston, S., Marks, L. and Richford, A. (2015).  Building and Executing MOOCs: A practical review of Glasgow’s first two MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).  University of Glasgow.

  4. Seaton, D., Bergner, Y., Chuang, I., Mitros, P. and Pritchard D. (2013).  "Towards Real-Time Analytics in MOOCs,"  IWTA 2013.



Alan Dix 3/6/2015