Category Archives: MOOCs

New MOOC for early careers researchers

You may be interested to know that a new free MOOC (massive open online course) for research students and research staff has just opened for bookings.  Called Career Management for Early Career Academic Researchers, it aims to support researchers to explore their career options and make career plans:

“Being an early career academic researcher, whether you’re a doctoral student or research staff, can be challenging: should you pursue further academic research? What skills will help you progress in an academic career? What other career options are open to you?

On this course you will answer these questions and more, considering how to manage you career and reflecting on what you want out of a career. You will be encouraged to consider different career options, both within and outside academic research, and build your confidence in marketing yourself in applications and interviews.”

The MOOC is a collaboration between the University of Glasgow, University of Edinburgh, and University of Sheffield, and has been developed by careers professionals who are experienced in working with research students and research staff.

The first course will start on 5th March 2018. For more information and sign up details go to:

Using ORO for Learning and Teaching

The focus for ORO remains the dissemination of OU research outputs to the widest possible audience.  However, there is a use for ORO that we sometimes forget: ORO can be an Open Access resource bank for module production.

When she was at the OU as Director, Research, Scholarship and Quality Astrid Wissenberg gave a presentation on using research outputs in modules.  At the time I was aware of around a dozen ORO items that were being used in OU Modules and gave Astrid some examples for the presentation she titled Sprinkling gold dust: challenging students with cutting edge research.

I’m aware from colleagues that ORO items are quite heavily used in some IET modules, so I thought I’d have another look to see if there had been an increase in the use of ORO items in OU Modules.  Below is a list of known library links to ORO records provided for module production – we found 18 different items associated with 23 different modules:

oro items in modules

So there is continued usage of ORO items in module production… and maybe there is a lot more off my radar – I’d love to know about it!

I’ve also noticed at least two ORO items being used in FutureLearn MOOCs: Regine Hampel (2014). Making meaning online: computer-mediated communication for language learning. was used in Understanding Language and Rosie Flewitt, David Messer, and Natalia Kucirkova (2015). New directions for early literacy in a digital age: the iPad. was used in Childhood in the Digital Age.  There seems an obvious match between Open Access research and Open Access teaching (see blog post Open Access research in Open Access courses).

The benefits of using Open Access materials from ORO for teaching include:

  • Linking to ORO items is free
  • OU researchers involved in module production are in a great position to identify relevant work for use in modules
  • OU researchers can deposit the Author’s Accepted Manuscript of their work in ORO at any time – even if it has already been published.  Adding the item to ORO makes it available for using in module production.

Of course ORO isn’t the only place to go, if you are looking for Open Access content CORE is the best place to start with over 36 million Open Access articles aggregated from repositories across the world.

And it works both ways, one of the most downloaded items in ORO is Nigel Cross (2001). Designerly ways of knowing: design discipline versus design science. Design Issues, 17(3) pp. 49–55 – it gets several hundred downloads a month!  One of the reasons for this is because it is used in a Masters programme in Interaction Design and Technologies at the University of Gothenburg.  So getting the full text in ORO may increase the dissemination of a research output via University Curricula across the globe.



Open Access research in Open Access courses

Recently a FutureLearn MOOC  linked to a full text research article archived in ORO.  The paper was “New directions for early literacy in a digital age: the iPad. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 2014  (Early View) by Rosie Flewitt, David Messer and Natalia Kucirkova.” and it featured in the “Childhood in the digital age” MOOC.

A short extract from the paper appeared in the body of the course and the full text ORO item was linked to as a “See Also” option.  The full text was used free of charge with no need to worry about licenses as all full text content in ORO is made available with a CC-BY-NC-ND license.

Using ORO is a cost effective and increasingly popular way of getting OU research publications into module materials.  Astrid Wissenburg gave a great presentation outlining some of these opportunities at the Inspiring Content event last year.  The presentation is available to watch again here: “Sprinkling Gold Dust: challenging students with cutting edge research“.

The ORO item “New directions for early literacy in a digital age…” was the most visited item page in ORO immediately after it was used in the MOOC and showed a marked spike in both site visits and downloads.


Feel free to contact us if you are interested in using ORO items in an OU module or MOOC.