Research and scholarship in digital education

This module supports you in developing research and scholarship skills appropriate to investigating online teaching, technology-enhanced learning and educational technology, while also pursuing your specialist interests. You'll learn how to find, understand, interpret, and critically evaluate research relating to online, blended and technology-enhanced teaching, learning and assessment in diverse global contexts. You'll also develop skills in planning rigorous, context-appropriate scholarship and research studies suited to evaluating the extent to which digital education is equitable and effective. 

Vocational relevance

Research and scholarship in digital education (H890) is relevant to those working or interested in digital education across all educational sectors, including teachers, lecturers, tutors, managers, institution leaders, educational technologists and researchers. It is a compulsory module in our MA in Online Teaching (F98) and is also available for standalone study providing suitable preparation for doctoral study and independent research.


H890 is a compulsory module in our:


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
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

What you will study

Digital education includes online, blended and technology-enhanced learning. All these approaches to teaching, learning and assessment can improve access to quality education. However, if used unwisely they can perpetuate inequity and injustice. This module supports you in developing research and scholarship skills to evaluate the effectiveness of online, blended and technology-enhanced teaching and assessment. This includes investigating how educational technologies can be employed to meet diverse learners’ needs and the extent to which open practices can support scholarship and research processes.

Block 1 offers an introduction to research and scholarship. You'll consider the relationship between the two and explore ways of generating ideas for research and scholarship projects, including conducting a literature review and writing research questions. You’ll explore the role of reflection in research and scholarship and investigate the ethical considerations involved when researching online teaching, technology-enhanced learning, and educational technology. The section ends by discussing the role of theory in scholarship and research and outlining some of the key theories that inform practice in digital education.

Block 2 covers the process of planning research and scholarship related to digital education. You’ll explore methodologies, approaches and data collection methods that are particularly appropriate to investigating online, blended and technology-enhanced teaching, learning and assessment. You’ll look at the ways in which digital data can be used in a research study and consider the role of stakeholders in research and scholarship, and how collaboration with them can enhance the research process.

Block 3 focuses on broader considerations related to ethics and social justice. You'll consider how a theory of change approach can be the basis for researching the impact of digital education on learners and on society and exploring the influence of contextual factors. You'll look at transformative and democratic research and scholarship practices and consider the impact of the researcher on the research process and the significance of the power relations that are inevitably involved in educational research. You'll explore the challenges involved in researching across cultures and continents and investigate how the effectiveness of cutting-edge technologies and pedagogical innovation such as extended and virtual reality, and artificial intelligence-based systems, can best be evaluated.

Block 4 focuses on the ways in which research and scholarship data can be analysed and how study findings can be shared with the wider world to maximise their impact. You'll explore how to write formal research reports and how to use informal dissemination methods such as data visualisation and digital arts-based approaches. You’ll look at the role of conferences and collaboration in disseminating research findings. The section ends with an online conference in which you’ll be invited to participate.

In the final block, you'll carry out independent study as you prepare your final piece of assessed work, either a report on a small-scale scholarship investigation conducted during your study of this module, or an extended research proposal suitable as potential preparation for doctoral study and/or as the basis for bidding for research funding.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Tuition on the module is conducted entirely online, in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. The online course materials will direct you to complete specified activities and share your responses with your peers for feedback.

Throughout your study, you’ll get help and support from your assigned tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback helping you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that's for general study skills or related to specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between you and your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.
  • Holding synchronous video conferencing sessions to support your work on the module topics and assessment.
  • Supporting your participation in/engagement with the module's online conference. The online conference is a feature of the module that is intended to give all students the opportunity to showcase their work to a wide global audience. You can select the most suitable format for your work from a range including live presentations, posters, animations, videos and pre-recorded presentations.

You will be supported by tutors in cohort-wide in-line forum discussions and in sector/subject-specific forums. Tutors and library staff will also support students in four cohort-wide synchronous online group tutorials, with each tutorial held at least twice to accommodate students’ needs and preferences (including different time zones). You will also be encouraged to support each other in student-led online room sessions.

Tutors will also be allocated time to provide extended one-to-one support, focused on the choice of option for the end-of-module assessment (EMA), the focus of the assessed work, and the development of the extended research plan/small-scale study plan.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

Your final dissertation will be a choice of a report on a small-scale scholarship investigation, or an extended research proposal. 

Course work includes

2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

Future availability

Research and scholarship in digital education (H890) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2032.


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. A non-standard entry route is possible on submission of two pieces of relevant work.

Your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum overall score of 6 and minimum score of 5.5 in each of the four components: reading, writing, speaking and listening under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see the IELTS website for details.

If you would like to discuss whether your previous experience is suitable to study this module, please speak to an adviser.


Start End England fee Register
05 Oct 2024 Jun 2025 £2900.00

Registration closes 12/09/24 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2032.

Future availability

Research and scholarship in digital education (H890) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2032.

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

You will access the module learning materials using the OU’s Moodle virtual learning environment (VLE), which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio, video and podcast content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • access to peer group and course-specific discussion forums
  • online tutorial access.

MA in Online Teaching (F98)

If you are studying this module as part of the MA in Online Teaching (F98), you will also be invited to join a "wraparound" community of practice. This includes:

  • a programme of regular qualification-wide webinars and online workshops led by the OU’s Institute of Educational Technology (IET) and other academics (including those in the worldwide Global OER Graduate Network), and alumni of related postgraduate modules. These will include events held by the Computers and Learning Research Group and relevant special interest groups, in addition to dedicated events covering topics related to the Masters in Online Teaching
  • a qualification-wide forum
  • qualification-wide social media accounts.

The community of practice and its events will be promoted to all students on related modules and microcredentials and is intended to bring students and microcredential learners together and to support their journey through the Masters in Online Teaching, while also integrating students into the wider academic community.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

If you have a disability

The module materials are delivered entirely online and will be downloadable in multiple accessible formats. You will also be able to download forum posts and discussions from the VLE, allowing you to make adjustments that make the text more readable.

Adobe Connect will be used to host the online synchronous sessions which provides the facility to use the chat area to communicate, though you may find it beneficial to have someone assisting you.

Where podcasts and other media, including YouTube videos, are used, transcriptions, close captions and audio descriptions will be provided. Long descriptions will also be provided for all images used.

The online conference that is a feature of the module is intended to give all students the opportunity to showcase their work to a wide global audience in a format suitable for them. Possible formats include live presentations, posters, animations, videos and pre-recorded presentations.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.

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