August 25, 2022: Use of MOOCs

Transcript of the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable: August 25, 2022
Topic: Use of MOOCs
Photos by Beth Ghostraven

Next week VWER starts the series of joint events with the Virtual Worlds MOOC.
We will look at the programme for the VWMOOC,
and also discuss how the VWMOOC aligns with aspirations to bring more educators into VW, and our recent experience of MOOCs more generally.
MOOC stands for
• Massive
• Open
• Online
• Course

Sheila Yoshikawa: Hi everyone, and welcome to the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable. We meet on Thursdays at 12 noon SLT for an hour. VWER is a forum to educate and inform the community about issues that are important and relevant to education in virtual worlds.
Sheila Yoshikawa: This is a public meeting, so we will be keeping and publishing a transcript in due course. The transcripts can be found at
Sheila Yoshikawa: The VWER continues to develop a community of educators from around the world. Please join the VWER group here in SL.
Sheila Yoshikawa: If you are on Facebook please join our group there
Sheila Yoshikawa: The topic for this week’s meeting will be: the use of MOOCs
Sheila Yoshikawa: First let’s start by introducing ourselves. Please type as much or as little about yourself as you want to, in text chat. Just type in all at once.
Beth Ghostraven: I’m a retired teacher-librarian in RL and owner of Ghostraven Professional Attire, classic clothing for educators in SL ( I also own the Book and Tankard Pub in Victoria City, Caledon, in SL.
My outreach and communications activities include:

  • Communications Chair for the VWBPE Conference
  • Transcript editor for VWER
  • VSTE Facilitator (Virginia Society for Technology in Education)
  • Uunofficial liaison between education groups in SL (AKA Spam Queen)
    For information on events for the educational virtual world groups that I work with, see the Virtual Worlds Edu Events Calendar at
    I’ll be taking photos to publish with the transcript; if you have any objection, please IM me.
    Sheila Yoshikawa: If you click the box next to the table there is a notecard for today’s session, and also a notecard from a previous VWER (where I presented some research about MOOC archetypes – that’s archetypes of MOOC learners)
    Tora the Explorer (toraona.thane): Tora… in RL Ericka Hiatt, information design specialist, tech writer, webstuff content manager
    Sheila Yoshikawa: I also take photos and put them on Flickr
    Sheila Yoshikawa: I am a faculty member in the Information School, University of Sheffield, UK, and I am leader of VWER and owner of this island
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): Hello, I am Shi Emmons, have a deep interest in the educational potential of Second Life
    I have Interest in museum grade exhibits in the VW & and working as Project Developer on educational events that serve the greater VW, in science, social science, history & the arts. Calendar managing for Curious George and Virtech events. We kicked off two series of talks this past weekend: Astronomy series, and the Honey Bee and Honey Education series
    PI (pi.illios): PI Illios Virtual Reference medical Librarian & Library Website Content Developer & Administrator FB TWITTER @PI_illios FLICKR
    Jamie Jordan (jwheels.carver): I’m Jamie and I work with Selby on many virtual world projects. Most of our current focus is on
    Valibrarian Gregg: Valerie Hill – Library and Information Science researcher – Seattle VWEC and Community Virtual Library
    Marly (marly.milena): Niela Miller, .M.S. Ed/Communications: It’s all there
    Wisdomseeker (lissena): is Founder/Executive Director of Whole Brain Health on Inspiration Island in SL, the virtual arm of the 501(c)3 Ageless Mind Project. See
    Sheila Yoshikawa: great, thank you
    Sheila Yoshikawa: Nice to see you all!
    Sheila Yoshikawa: So
    Sheila Yoshikawa: Next week VWER starts the series of joint events with the Virtual Worlds MOOC.
    Sheila Yoshikawa: next week we will just join the opening session, since it is timed at 12 noon on a Thursday!
    Wisdomseeker (lissena): 🙂
    Sheila Yoshikawa: and after that we have 3 VWERs which will also be VWMOOC events
    Sheila Yoshikawa: So this week seemed a good point to look forward to the VWMOOC, and also to discuss the use of MOOCs more generally as we haven’t discussed them for a while
    Valibrarian Gregg: VWER is a perfect way to kick off the MOOC22!
    Sheila Yoshikawa: Actually perhaps I will start with the reminder that
    Sheila Yoshikawa: MOOC stands for
    • Massive
    • Open
    • Online
    • Course
    ThinkererSelby Evans (thinkerer.melville): Selby Evans, Fort Worth, blogger, retired prof. of psychology
    Sheila Yoshikawa: and that while the early MOOCs where very open and collaborate
    Sheila Yoshikawa: the majority of MOOCs are now run by large organisations like Coursera, FutureLearn
    Sheila Yoshikawa: and equivalents in Asia etc
    Sheila Yoshikawa: and are large scale operations with a standarised virtual learning environment
    Sheila Yoshikawa: and numerous universities etc. offering MOOCs on the platform
    Sheila Yoshikawa: usually with the basic course free
    Sheila Yoshikawa: but you have to pay for various things like continued access to the content, certification
    Sheila Yoshikawa: At the peak of the hype cycle there were loads of articles about how MOOCs were going to replace universities etc,
    Sheila Yoshikawa: but it seems to me like they have mainly just taken their place in the educational world
    Sheila Yoshikawa: as part of a marketised education process
    Sheila Yoshikawa: anyway
    Valibrarian Gregg: Yes 2012 was the “year of the MOOC! I was reading lots of articles saying the were the “education of the future” but that hype dwindled
    Beth Ghostraven: Hi emilioch!
    Sheila Yoshikawa: I mention in the notecard that a simple search for “metaverse” with the MOOC providers show that “metaverse” (as the latest hype) is being dragged in to MOOC marketing e.g. (copying from the notecard)
    Sheila Yoshikawa:
    FutureLearn links to some courses it positions as being related to the Metaverse in this blog post
    Sheila Yoshikawa: actually the first looks the most interesting
    Sheila Yoshikawa: and I’m sure there are more!
    Marly (marly.milena): I think it will all be hybrid for education..some here, some there, some elsewhere
    Sheila Yoshikawa: After that longish introduction I was going to ask – what are your current experience or thoughts about MOOCs (leaving VWMOOC to one side for now)
    PI (pi.illios): Looked briefly at them Look interesting
    Wisdomseeker (lissena): brb
    Sheila Yoshikawa: @Marly – what were you meaning by “Hybrid” there?
    Valibrarian Gregg: “An open introductory course to NFTs and the Metaverse, delivered on-chain and in the metaverse.” yes- interesting indeed
    Marly (marly.milena): Actually, I like intimate learning situations, small groups, lots of interaction, sort of like we do here
    PI (pi.illios): I took a lot over the years
    Sheila Yoshikawa: @Marly from that point of view mainsteam MOOCs are probably not your cup of tea
    Marly (marly.milena): Hybrid–some MOOCS, some virtual worlds, some classrooms in biosphere, some podcasts, etc
    Sheila Yoshikawa: @Pi do you still take MOOCs? and what sort did you do?
    PI (pi.illios): The latest was on blockchain
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): EdX, Kahn Academy, Udemy, just to name a few more
    Sheila Yoshikawa: thanks @Marly
    Sheila Yoshikawa: @Pi (or anyone else!) what do you see as the particular benefits of MOOCs?
    Marly (marly.milena): I like MOOCs for reaching a lot of people but not for my own learning
    Sheila Yoshikawa: I have dipped into MOOCs, but I don’t think I’ve ever followed one all the way through
    PI (pi.illios): Well They have given me inside or introduction to particular topics
    Suemoon Magic: Val and I took a MOOC on Gaming a few years ago and we met with several folks in SL to talk about assignments and things. It was fun.
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): hmmm Sheila.. I was on the ground floor when MOOCs started with all of those online education forums
    Beth Ghostraven: MOOCs can give one access to a well-known expert at little or no cost
    Sheila Yoshikawa: I’m just pondering whether it is that I don’t learn new topics, or whether I learn them in different ways (other than MOOCs)
    PI (pi.illios): I agree Beth
    PI (pi.illios): Probably in different ways
    Marly (marly.milena): Liss and I did an early VWMOOC on SL and Web simultaneously. OY. It took awhile to work out that dualistic endeavor
    Sheila Yoshikawa: @Suemoon yes that sounds a good reason – meeting like minded people interested in learning about the same thing – also good point about access to experts @Beth
    Sheila Yoshikawa: lol @Marly
    Valibrarian Gregg: I have taken several MOOCs and taught part of a MOOC. They are great for getting a basic understanding of particular subjects, but very little collaborative learning or interaction with the professor/teacher.
    Marly (marly.milena): Right, Val, or with other students
    PI (pi.illios): I chose a MOOC for Blockchain because I needed guidance
    Valibrarian Gregg: I took a MOOC on metadata and one on metaliteracy- good for overview
    Sheila Yoshikawa: I do actually recommend MOOCs to my students sometimes e.g. practical ones like how to write your CV, or ones on teaching & learning, or research methods, taught by people I know are expert/good teachers
    PI (pi.illios): I need one for Data Mining
    Tora the Explorer (toraona.thane): you have to have lab-style classes. you do the lecture, where in a RL setting you don’t have a lot of interaction with the professor anyway, and then you have breakout sessions where you get that intimate setting and the interaction you’re looking for.
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): Val.. I did too, on the metadata one.. and.. ironically, I think that was George teaching it.
    Marly (marly.milena): Yes, that distinction…learning a particular skill, works well since it is hopefully taught step by step–but even there, it is better to be able to ask questions of the instructor
    Sheila Yoshikawa: @Marly I agree about lack of interaction (particularly with the “teachers”) I think some of them DO enable interaction with other students – it depends on the learning/VLE design
    Valibrarian Gregg: and lurking on a MOOC is totally acceptable! It is sort of…learn what you want but no hoops to jump! which can be problematic if you are looking for accreditation
    Tora the Explorer (toraona.thane): lol hold on, brb. mother in law is computer stumped again 😀
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): I started with MOOCs back in 2000 … following every possible online education venue that existed.. I think MOOCs are excellent supplemental data… and now you can earn certificates
    Sheila Yoshikawa: @Val yes and that is one reason why having a lot of people “not complete” a MOOC is OK as it is acceptable just to drop in and take in the specific piece of learning you want
    Sheila Yoshikawa: at least it should be
    Valibrarian Gregg: Actually, George and I did a presentation on MOOCs way back in 2013! (long ago in Internet time)
    Marly (marly.milena): I have been invited to do a MOOC sort of thing with a few hundred Chinese people (in China, on Zoom) and am metaphorically biting my nails about that since there is the mix of dealing with another culture as well as the subject matter
    Sheila Yoshikawa: I did a number of presentations about MOOC and librarians when MOOC were new….. perhaps I should revisit them. Actually I think librarians got involved in MOOCs a bit less than they could have, but they have helped in giving guidance on resources, intellectual property rights and so forth
    Sheila Yoshikawa: oooo Marly that sounds interesting!
    Valibrarian Gregg: yes Sheila- librarians were involved early on! I gave several MOOC presentations because access to academic databases was difficult when you have massive students from all over the globe.
    Sheila Yoshikawa: also noting that Shiloh said she was involved in the early MOOCs!
    Marly (marly.milena): afk brb
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): hmmmmm
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): this gives me an idea
    Sheila Yoshikawa: I know that there are also numerous MOOCs which are wholly open access but they tend to be more difficult to track down than the ones with the big providers
    PI (pi.illios): Yes. The search engines bring the big brands first
    Sheila Yoshikawa: having said that about librarians, I know that some have been involved more centrally in MOOCs, particularly ones in related areas such as academic integrity
    Sheila Yoshikawa: OK – if you like we could move to discussing the VWMOOC
    Tora the Explorer (toraona.thane): gotta boogie. sorry guys. see you next time 🙂
    Sheila Yoshikawa:
    Sheila Yoshikawa: also the programme is here
    Sheila Yoshikawa:
    Valibrarian Gregg: CVL did a metadata mooc study group in 2013 too
    Sheila Yoshikawa: thanks Val
    Sheila Yoshikawa: So just to advertise the VWER offerings
    ThinkererSelby Evans (thinkerer.melville):
    Sheila Yoshikawa: in 2 weeks time Val, Pi and I will be talking about libraries, Literacies and the metaverse
    PI (pi.illios): and intellectual freedom
    Sheila Yoshikawa: yes that is in 4 week time
    Sheila Yoshikawa: then in 3 weeks Mark Childs (Gann McGann) and I will lead a discussion
    PI (pi.illios): woohoo
    Sheila Yoshikawa: on avatars, virtual worlds and popular culture
    Sheila Yoshikawa: which is a sort of a spinoff from his Pedagodzilla podcast
    Beth Ghostraven: I’m planning to do my usual “how to get dressed” session, but I haven’t scheduled it yet
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): it would be interesting, but I am sure way too involved, if Second Life produced its own MOOCs
    Sheila Yoshikawa: (for which I am joining in a couple of episodes!)
    PI (pi.illios): Super
    Sheila Yoshikawa: that’s great @Beth
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): excellent, Sheila
    Sheila Yoshikawa: @Shiloh – but VWMOOC is sort of that?
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): yes true
    Sheila Yoshikawa: or are you thinking of other subjects e.g. a honey MOOC? ;-))
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): but I meant in a broader range of topics
    Sheila Yoshikawa whispers: run in SL
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): yes Honey Bee MOOC
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): Astronomy MOOC
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): Information mgmt MOOC in a VW setting
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): Marly .. would be producing Symmod MOOCs
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): you are about to have one anyway with China
    Valibrarian Gregg: Thanks for the MOOC youtube, Selby- I just added Nellie’s channel to the VWEC youtube
    Sheila Yoshikawa: so – how would that be different from normal sessions on those topics (thinking aloud)
    Sheila Yoshikawa: I mean in SL – I suppose in having a limited duration, a more fixed schedule?
    Sheila Yoshikawa: [BTW this is the pedagodzilla podcast]
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): MOOCs might give background information to people/ attendees
    Marly (marly.milena): Back
    Valibrarian Gregg: IN SL- an advantage is the “sense of presence” one does not get in a totally online MOOC for sure
    Sheila Yoshikawa: @Marly can you say anything more about your Chinese MOOC?
    ThinkererSelby Evans (thinkerer.melville): Could have time for group projects — PBL
    Sheila Yoshikawa: yes @Selby
    Marly (marly.milena): @Sheila et al….years ago, I went to Australia to teach the application of creative processes to Gestalt therapists at the invitation of a leader of a Gestalt Institute there. We have stayed in touch. He is living/working in China now and has created an educational institution to bring in international educators once a month to offer their specialties.
    Sheila Yoshikawa: I was an educator on one of the early FutureLearn MOOCs (I talked about it at the time – “Exploring Play”) – FutureLearn have a fixed template and procedure – you define learning outcomes, steps for each learning outcome, short videos, discussion topics, quizzes
    ThinkererSelby Evans (thinkerer.melville): Flipped class — Groups work out questions and develop answers.
    Marly (marly.milena):Sheila Yoshikawa: @Selby though for the MOOCs that really are Massive it is more challenging to do that
    Sheila Yoshikawa: ones with hundreds or more of participants
    Marly (marly.milena): I don’t know exactly what I will do but it will have to do with using creative processes in education
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): yes.. my friend is a math teacher in Nevada , flipped class… MOOCs are useful
    Sheila Yoshikawa: @Marly so the “audience” consists of Chinese educators?
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): yes, Marly
    Beth Ghostraven: my nephew is currently teaching in China
    ThinkererSelby Evans (thinkerer.melville): Yes — more challenging — Challenges are good for learning
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): that is essentially what I am doing with the Honey Bee / Honey Education Project
    Sheila Yoshikawa: @Selby though I agree that flipped approach is excellent
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): bringing in outside specialists from around the world
    Marly (marly.milena): Yes and therapists in training and other people workers
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): George is bringing in his Caltech contacts on Astronomy…
    Marly (marly.milena): He tells me the Chinese like precision, a show of confidence, clarity, lectures and might be open to some experiential learning if the former is there
    Sheila Yoshikawa: my impression is that there is a big diversity of approaches to education at the university level in China – some amazingly well funded and high quality institutions, and some more restricted
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): you know, Marly.. the virtue of having you bring the Chinese students in SL…
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): where you can actually physically interact with them.. would be a boon
    Sheila Yoshikawa: yes certainly clarity @Marly, just from a linguistic point of view, I have learned to speak more slowly and clearly and not use UK-specific examples etc.
    Sheila Yoshikawa: sorry that sounded patronising
    Sheila Yoshikawa: and a conversation stopper!
    Suemoon Magic: ㋡
    Beth Ghostraven: Sheila not really, I think those are good practices in teaching in general, for an international audience
    PI (pi.illios): Nods
    Valibrarian Gregg: hahaha~ an benefit of virtual worlds the global distance is not a problem….but the time zones are!
    Marly (marly.milena): This is a Gestalt Club for Chinese students (mostly) who are becoming therapists and other related vocations. Does anyone know about VOOV and WeChat?
    Sheila Yoshikawa: yes indeed! though also an issue for doing Google Meetings with students in China lol
    Valibrarian Gregg: I really like working with Yan Lauria- and he sometimes finds English difficult but never lets it stop him 🙂
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): WeChat , yes
    Marly (marly.milena): Voov is sort of their Zoom
    Valibrarian Gregg: Part of global digital culture is learning to keep going through both tech issues and language barriers – getting comfortable with that
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): Marly… are any of the Chinese students connected to the Chinese University here in SL?
    Marly (marly.milena): I have to acquire both of these.
    Sheila Yoshikawa: Re WeChat I know that my students use it for everything! For meetings, for news, for chat, also you can mount questionnaires on WeChat and it does a simple analysis (like Google forms)
    Sheila Yoshikawa: my Chinese students that is
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): of course, there is the old basic: MicroSoft Teams
    Marly (marly.milena): Professional 4 year students of Gestalt therapy, some business people, some educators
    Sheila Yoshikawa: also Voov – I have used that to conference with a Chinese student in China, that was really easy to set up
    Valibrarian Gregg: Both Whatsapp and TikTok seem very global (although I hear cybersecurity warnings about both- not sure what to believe)
    Marly (marly.milena): @Sheila, so glad it’s “easy! I dread every new tech I have to use
    Valibrarian Gregg: @Marly – just when you find a really good tech app- a new one will come along and replace it! might as well smile
    Sheila Yoshikawa: Voov also gives you “beautify” options in its filters I noticed, though I think I am past that
    PI (pi.illios): My students use Telegram
    Sheila Yoshikawa: lol
    Sheila Yoshikawa: haha we have moved from MOOCs through to communications apps
    PI (pi.illios) whispers: 😀
    Valibrarian Gregg: I agree @Sheila -I am a bit tired of all the editing filters to make your life “prettier”- teens spend more time editing life than living it!
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): so, Sheila… returning to the idea of MOOCs… bringing outside speakers.. would it behoove us to set up a MOOC with the speaker.. ?
    PI (pi.illios): Hahaha only teens I have coworkers that always use filters
    Sheila Yoshikawa: 😉
    Valibrarian Gregg: well- you can access MOOCs on apps! Seems there’s an app for everything almost
    Sheila Yoshikawa: yes in fact the assumption often seems to be that people will mostly access a MOOC on a mobile device
    Valibrarian Gregg: but here in SL- don’t you prefer a nice big screen to SEE?!?
    PI (pi.illios): Yes
    Valibrarian Gregg: I don’t like learning on a tiny little device…but I suppose younger people might
    Sheila Yoshikawa: @Shiloh – which speaker where you referring to? (sorry)
    Marly (marly.milena): I just got a new Mac 24″ instead of 27″ and I have to adjust to even that reduction in visibility!
    Valibrarian Gregg: There is a diverse group of speakers on the VWMOOC22 this year
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): any speakers outside SL… whether they be related to therapy, Astronomy, Honey Bees, Health…
    Sheila Yoshikawa: yes and in fact there is evidence that e.g. university students use laptops to do academic work, for obvious reasons, but universities seem obsessed with the idea that everything needs to look good on phones – anyway – hobbyhorse that I will get off
    PI (pi.illios): So true @Sheila
    Sheila Yoshikawa: @Sholih, I think setting anything up as a MOOC is a lot of work (if it is really potentially going to be “massive”) ….. though it’s a very nice idea
    PI (pi.illios): My web page analytics show exactly that
    Marly (marly.milena): I want to invite you all to come to NPC tomorrow to hear stories about how people got into their vocations.
    Sheila Yoshikawa: VWMOOC programme again (as we are nearly finished)
    Valibrarian Gregg: I am presenting about the metaverse and libraries for the Kansas Library Association in OCT and they are using an app for the conference called Whova – yet another app!
    Sheila Yoshikawa: sounds interesting @Marly!
    Valibrarian Gregg:
    Marly (marly.milena): I am assuming this group got the notice from Zinnia?
    Beth Ghostraven: Marly, about your session for NPC tomorrow? I did
    Sheila Yoshikawa: I think so @Marly!
    Marly (marly.milena): Whew. I am so bad with transfers of stuff
    Sheila Yoshikawa: @Val Whova-type applications seem to be in vogue though in my experience the “social” parts don’t actually get used that much……
    Valibrarian Gregg: Sheila- this was a great way to set the tone for the VWMOOC
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): i don’t recall the note but I think they mentioned this would be pt2 to the vocation talk
    Sheila Yoshikawa: OK I think that’s it for this week
    Shiloh e. (shiloh.emmons): Thank you for a n interesting education chat today; very informative. Everyone, stay well, be safe…. Namaste
    Beth Ghostraven: I shared a texture about Marly’s presentation, in case anyone hasn’t seen it already
    Valibrarian Gregg: see you at the MOOC next time!!
    Sheila Yoshikawa: yes!
    Valibrarian Gregg: Cool picture for Marly’s event tomorrow!
    Sheila Yoshikawa: yes it is!
    Valibrarian Gregg: bye all 🙂
    Suemoon Magic: Bye
    PI (pi.illios): take care !
    Sheila Yoshikawa: Bye all!
    Jamie Jordan (jwheels.carver): thanks everybody
    Sheila Yoshikawa: bye all!

NOTECARD: VWER 25 Aug 2022: Use of MOOCs
**Topic: “Use of MOOCs”
Virtual Worlds Education Round Table (VWER), at 12 noon SL time on Thursday 25 Aug 2022
**The session will be led by Sheila Yoshikawa and will be in text chat
Next week VWER starts the series of joint events with the Virtual Worlds MOOC.
We will look at the programme for the VWMOOC,
and also discuss how the VWMOOC aligns with aspirations to bring more educators into VW, and our recent experience of MOOCs more generally.
*** Included in the folder with this notecard is a notecard from a VWER session given in September 2020 on “Archetypes of MOOC learner”.
MOOC stands for
• Massive
• Open
• Online
• Course
There seem to be some MOOCs which badge themselves as being about the metaverse e.g.
FutureLearn links to some courses it positions as being related to the Metaverse in this blog post

NOTECARD: MOOC learner archetypes
This is the text from a presentation by Sheila Yoshikawa, September 2020. There are a few extra notes, not in the powerpoint, they are in square brackets [ ]
The key source of the research is the set of FutureLearn blog posts starting at
The reason for introducing them is to highlight the wide variety of situations and motivations that MOOC learners may have. It depends on the MOOC, but there is likely to be more diversity that you would get in a formal education class.
Slide 1
Title: Archetypes of MOOC Learners
Presenter: Sheila Yoshikawa/ Sheila Webber
VWER/VWMOOC, September 2020
Slide 2
[What does MOOC stand for?]
• Massive
• Open
• Online
• Course
e.g. on Coursera, FutureLearn, EdX, Udemy, Canvas Network… or the VWMOOC
Slide 3
[key points about the research]
• Research by FutureLearn, a MOOC platform/ consortium (my University, University of Sheffield, is a member)
• Survey asking MOOC learners about motivations, preferences, behaviours & “personal lifestyle choices”
• Sent to learners registered with FutureLearn
• 7,000 responses
• Analysis developed 7 categories or “archetypes”
Slide 4
N.B. people may have multiple motivations or different motivations for different MOOCS
“In fact, very few of our learners in the research identified with only one archetype and it was very common for a learner that strongly identified with the Advancer archetype, for example, to also think of themselves as an Explorer to some degree.”
Slide 5
[The researchers grouped the 7 archetypes into 3 groups]

  • Work and Study group of archetypes
    “Learners who use FutureLearn primarily to enhance career prospects”
    • Advancers
    • Explorers
    • Preparers
    Slide 6
    Personal Life group of archetypes
    “Learners who use FutureLearn primarily to positively affect a problem in their personal life”
    • Fixers
    • Flourishers
    Slide 7
  • Leisure group of archetypes
    “Learners who learn for ‘the love of learning’ or to satisfy their curiosity/interest in a hobby or community activity”
    • Hobbyists
    • Vitalisers
    Slide 8
    [The next slides go through the archetypes one by one]
  • Advancers
    • “Advancers are on their chosen career path.
    • “They’re ambitious and self-motivated to do better, progress and not stagnate.
    • “They are likely to be employed full-time and a greater proportion are from the 26-35 age group.
    • “The highest representation of Advancers were found in Asia (36%) Europe (30%) and Africa (18%).”
    What do Advancers want from FutureLearn?
    • “Work related courses with clear outcomes
    • “Up to date information and on trend topics
    • “Pathways to specialise further
    • “Certificates and accreditation”
    Slide 9
  • Explorers
    • “Explorers are evaluating their options and want to inform their decisions about what to do next.
    • “They might be looking to change career, find a better life balance or decide where to start their working lives.
    • “They were more likely to come from the 26-35 age group
    • “the highest representation of Explorers were found in Asia (38%), Europe (34%) and Africa (15%).”
    What do they want from FutureLearn?
    • “Engaging courses, with cutting-edge, work-related topics
    • “Ways to build confidence in themselves, their knowledge and abilities
    • “Reassurance about the viability of their chosen path
    • “Pathways to more advanced courses”
    • Source:
    Slide 10
  • Preparers
    • “Preparers tend to be starting out in jobs, careers or related study, having already chosen what they want to do.
    • “have specific career or study goals and learn in order to improve their chances of success, improve their career prospects, stand out from the crowd, and increase their confidence
    • “mostly in the 19-35 age group .. largest group came from Asia (47%).
    • “also had the highest proportion of student learners than any other archetype.”
    What do they want from FutureLearn?
    • “Courses in up-to-date, job-relevant topics
    • “Interactive and engaging learning tools
    • “Ways to build confidence in knowledge/skills, e.g. tests
    • “Support for non-native English speakers
    • “Increasingly advanced courses and learning pathways
    • “Certificates and accreditation”
    Slide 11
  • Fixers
    • “Fixers learn in order to understand or manage current aspects of their personal life.” e.g. physical or mental health, political or cultural issues, practical life skills, or major life changes
    • “Fixers were spread quite evenly across 19-75 year olds and therefore came from a range of employment types.
    • “A higher proportion of Fixers came from Asia (45%) and only 28% from Europe”
    What do they want from FutureLearn?
    • “A range of quality, up-to-date courses to support needs
    • “Pathways to learn more if desired
    • “Empathy and understanding
    • “Confidence and empowerment
    • “Accessible, credible content and expert advice”
    • Source:
    Slide 12
  • Flourishers
    • “Flourishers enjoy self-help learning in order to be happy and healthy in their personal and professional lives.
    • “They may learn to be calm, manage stress, be enriched, build self-esteem, gain motivation, help others and/or share what they learn.
    • “they come from a wide range of ages and employment, however, the highest proportion tended to come from Europe (40%).”
    What do they want from FutureLearn?
    • “Up-to-date courses, covering well-being, health and the arts
    • “Plenty of accessible content
    • “Quality videos with engaging presenters
    • “Reference packs of material and downloadable audio content to engage with on the move”
    Slide 13
  • Hobbyists
    • “Hobbyists learn in order to support their existing personal projects, leisure activities and pastimes.
    • “A high proportion of Hobbyists were retired and therefore more likely to be in the 56-75 age group and 61% of them were from Europe.
    • “Hobbyists had the best activation rate and the best full participation rate in comparison with other learners on the platform”
    What do they want from FutureLearn?
    • “A wide variety of non-vocational courses to suit their hobbies, e.g. history topics
    • “Courses they can join when needed
    • “Opportunities to go into more depth
    • “Packs of course content and access to related resources”
    Slide 14
  • Vitalisers
    • “Vitalisers learn as a hobby and for the love of learning.
    “They may be proud to call themselves lifelong learners, occupying themselves by learning anything of personal interest.
    • “They see learning as an enjoyable and stimulating activity, perhaps even an indulgence.
    • “majority of vitalisers were retired and more likely to come from Europe (63%).
    • “Vitalisers had the highest number of enrolments of all archetypes”
    What do Vitalisers want from FutureLearn?
    • “Regular supply of diverse and interesting courses, allowing them to learn regularly
    • “To spend personal and luxury time learning
    • “Sound, accessible content and good reference materials
    • “To feel stimulated, mentally active and entertained
    • “To feel good about themselves, their identity as a learner and their good use of time”
    Slide 15
    [My details]
    Sheila Yoshikawa/ Sheila Webber
    Information School
    University of Sheffield
    Twitter: @sheilayoshikawa

    VWER Meeting Transcripts by Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at

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