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Openness and innovation in elearning

Innovations in elearning continue at pace, especially with the use of social software tools that encourage peer supported learning. With an emphasis on exploring innovation, you will discover some of the latest educational communication developments, the increasing use of data in education through the fast changing field of learning analytics, and also experience developments in open education. You will develop specific elearning skills, including those of collaborative working through an assessed elearning design activity. You'll conduct small-scale investigations, and use case studies, with the overall aim of incorporating or rethinking elearning activity into your own professional context. This module will introduce you to current debates around the concept of openness and the ethical issues relating to learning analytics.

Vocational relevance

This module is designed for educational professionals who want to become confident in the use of innovative technologies for learning.

The module is a core component of our MA in Online and Distance Education (F10), which is no longer available to new students. 

Some of our students are sponsored by their employers, who value the vocational relevance of Online and Distance Education.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

As a current or potential innovator in elearning this module invites you to think about and discuss what constitutes true innovation in this area and to consider why some innovations are adopted more readily than others. You will gain the skills to become a pedagogical professional in the use of innovative technologies for learning.

The learning design approach used empowers you as an educational practitioner to make informed use of the resources at your disposal to create effective innovative learning experiences. You will work in groups on a learning design project of your choice and construct a website to present your project.

One of the latest online developments in openness is teaching through a massive open online course (MOOC). You will gain direct experience of working within a MOOC and the experience will help you to gain new skills and a deeper understanding of open educational resources.

You will engage with a number of cutting edge issues surrounding the use of innovative technologies. These include such topics as the use of open educational resources, learning design and the ethics of using learning analytics. You will develop specific elearning skills including online group moderation and elearning activity design, conduct small-scale investigations, and use case studies, with the overall aim of incorporation or rethinking elearning activity into your own professional context.

Studying this module you will be part of a lively international community of students who will be sharing their experiences in different cultural contexts. Although H817 is based largely on research, practice and elearning in the UK, the field of learning is an international one, and we recognise the immense value that global participants can bring to the dialogue around elearning innovations.

The tuition and support provided will encourage you to participate in H817’s learning groups and to develop your independent skills in finding and evaluating information, software tools, practitioner accounts and research papers. You will be encouraged to relate these to your own practice.

You will learn

The learning outcomes for this module are available here.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Your tutor will guide you on many aspects of this module and will grade and comment on your written work. Your tutor is also available for advice and guidance. You will be taught and assessed through a combination of media, including the internet, live discussion online, and contributions to message-based forums, email, and written assignments.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system.

Course work includes

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Future availability

This module starts once a year in February. The details given here are for the module that starts in February 2021, the last time it will be available for study.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Entry requirements

    To take this module you need to be ready for study at postgraduate level, usually demonstrated by having a bachelors degree or equivalent qualification. You need easy access to the Web, but you don’t need to be experienced in blogging or in online discussion forums. 

    However, if you have successfully completed two-thirds of a bachelors degree (an HND in the UK, for example) and have professional experience in technology-enabled learning, you may still be eligible for the programme. You will be asked to provide further information and evidence of your eligibility as part of the registration process for the programme. 

    All teaching is in English, and your proficiency in the language needs to be adequate for postgraduate study and for contributing to online discussions by text and voice. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend that you make sure you can achieve a score of at least seven in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). To assess your English Language skills in relation to your proposed studies, you can visit the IELTS website.

    You must also have continual access to the internet and be confident in online communication. In addition, you should have some experience of reading and understanding academic literature.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


    Start End England fee Register
    30 Jan 2021 Oct 2021 £2520.00

    Registration closes 14/01/21 (places subject to availability)

    February 2021 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Future availability

    This module starts once a year in February. The details given here are for the module that starts in February 2021, the last time it will be available for study.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

    Ways to pay for this module

    We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

    That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

    Study materials

    What's included

    This module provides you with a dedicated website, specially written web-based teaching material, online study groups, learning activities for small groups and for you to undertake individually, blog and wiki tools, support from your tutor, live discussion online and message-based forums and other internet resources.

    As an OU student, you can use The Open University Library website. This provides access via the internet to a wide range of online resources such as databases, full-text ejournals, reference sources, ebooks, newspapers, images and more to support your studies. You can use these to do a literature search, keep up to date with your subject, or read around a topic.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    In this module you are expected to use a wide range of resources, and to study emerging online technologies. Many of the materials will be delivered as web pages, pdf files and web-based tools. Tutorial and student-led discussions and activities will be carried out in text-based discussion forums online. In addition, some discussions and collaborative activities will take place as live voice-based events in our audioconferencing (audiographics) environment, which combines voice, text and images.

    We have tried to avoid using inaccessible resources, but some material which is core for the module may not be easily accessible if you use assistive technology. Some students may also find the amount of reading from technically different sources challenging. In many cases there will be sufficient alternative activities and material to enable you to complete assignments successfully. Where this is not the case, you will be given individual support by your tutor in collaboration with other OU staff. Support for access to Library resources is available from the Library Helpdesk.

    Since you will be asked to participate in live online discussions in an audioconferencing (audiographics) environment, you may find it beneficial to have someone assisting you. Advice on this is available from an adviser.

    Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.