Tag Archives: digital learning

Digital learning intervention plan for a 6 credit point postgraduate Mindfulness ‘Train-the-Trainer’ program

Context and cohort

Mindfulness, in its simplest and most universal sense, is a mental discipline that involves training attention (Hassed, n.d). Mindfulness is also about intentionally paying attention to whatever you’re doing and what’s happening around you, which as a practice, can result in improvements to cognitive and academic performance, health and wellbeing and improved relationships. Deliberately paying attention is important, and as research by Sheline, Barch, Price, Rundle, Vaishnavi, Snyder, and Raichle (2009) and Broyd, Demanuele, Debener, Helps, James, and Sonuga-Barke (2009) suggests, when we’re not paying deliberate attention our brain switches to ‘Default Mode’ – a type of attention associated with poor cognitive functioning and impaired performance.

With growing evidence to support the efficacy of mindfulness interventions in improving cognitive and academic performance (Chan & Woollacott, 2007), health and wellbeing (Hofmann, Sawyer, Witt, & Oh, 2010) and improved relationships (Gambrel & Keeling, 2010), it’s not surprising that mindfulness is being explored by many education sectors to be part of their health and wellbeing programs. Indeed, these initiatives show promise, and as suggested by Zenner, Herrnleben-Kurz and Walach (2014), mindfulness-based interventions for children and youths are able to increase cognitive capacity of attending and learning.

So, how can a university better equip their students for the rigours of study and ensure they’re less stressed and performing at the best of their academic abilities? Mindfulness programs limited only to face-to-face workshops may impact the continued adoption of mindfulness practices (particularly if workshops require participants to travel or be in residence for a number of days, a retreat for example) – something that the affordances of digital may be able to counteract by providing greater flexibility and cost-effectiveness of delivering programs at scale. Already, there are a number of organisations (Center for Mindfulness, Openground), resources (www.mindfuled.org, www.mindfuleducation.org, Reachout) and digital tools (smilingmind, headspace, The Mindfulness App, Calm) available that share ideas and training opportunities for mindfulness programs as well as the development of a personal practice, but there are few digital solutions that directly support the development and capacity of teachers.

Teachers are probably the best placed to impart mindfulness practices to their students, and according to Zenner, Herrnleben-Kurz and Walach (2014), ideal for promoting mindfulness in their pupils through teaching mindfully, and through teaching mindfulness directly in diverse settings. An alternative to mindfulness-specific programs, would be to make mindfulness an essential component of a teachers unit of study, where practising teachers embed mindfulness as part of their teaching. To do this, they’ll need training.

My digital learning intervention plan describes the specifications for a 6 credit point postgraduate Mindfulness ‘Train-the-Trainer’ online program. Aimed solemnly at practising teachers in higher education, this AQF level 8 criteria program trains teachers how to embed mindfulness practices into their online teaching. This program is not designed for pre-service teachers, although pre-service teachers may benefit from the personal mindfulness practices in the program. This program could also be amended to suit other education cohorts as well as corporate and other professional contexts.

It’s also worth noting that any digital platforms, services, tools or apps mentioned in this digital learning intervention plan are not prescriptive, nor is the plan dependent on any one of these. Any platforms, services, tools or apps mentioned are for reference only, and for the purposes of this plan, it’s assumed that they, and all program content (including learning activities and assessments), meet all organisational requirements for data protection and privacy and the Level AA success criteria of W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1.


Intended learning outcomes

The following learning outcomes (LOs) describe what the participant* should know and be able to do at the end of the Mindfulness ‘Train-the-Trainer’ program. By the end of the program, the participant should be able to:

  1. relate the history and origins, science and evidence, and underlying principles of mindfulness
  2. describe and demonstrate formal and informal mindfulness practices
  3. formulate appropriate mindfulness interventions to facilitate learning
  4. apply mindfulness practices to unique contexts, including stress, performance, communication, relationships and movement
  5. incorporate mindfulness practices and principles with learning theories and principles to embed mindfulness-based learning experiences.

*Please note, I’ve used the term ‘participant’ instead of learner / student to avoid potential confusion between the context of a learner / student in this online program and the future-state where the participant is teaching learners / students’ in their online program.

Placed within the ‘Relational’ level of the SOLO Taxonomy (Biggs & Collis, 1982), the learning outcome LO1 is critical given the participant’s eventual teaching context, where they’ll need to show a connection, benefit and value of undertaking mindfulness practices to their students (which also benefits the participant’s own understanding of mindfulness) and other stakeholders. The participant’s capacity to relate what it means to be mindful, the cost of unmindfulness, default mode and being able to present a case for being mindful is vital, particularly when faced with the challenge of changing preconceptions towards mindfulness. This is particularly useful when participants are required to justify the benefits any additional efforts of mindfulness practices to students and organisational stakeholders.

Placed within the ‘Multistructural’ level, LO2 prepares the participant to lead a variety of meditations / exercises (formal practice) and elaborate on the spheres of mindful practice as well as the attitudes of mindfulness and its qualities (informal practice). The participant’s capacity to model what it means to be mindful through the demonstration of formal practices is essential, as is the skill to lead students through a meditation that helps cultivate their own ongoing practice. Attitudes and qualities (curiosity, openness, non-reactivity, self-awareness), spheres of practice (mundane moments, leisure time, communicating, movement, working) also known as informal mindful practices, are also aspects of mindful the participant will need to master and demonstrate to their students – informal practices are equally important as they’re the majority of moments that make-up the day.

Placed within the ‘Extended Abstract’ level, LO3 readys the participant to create their own mindfulness interventions relevant to their students and teaching context. Context shape content, and the program participant’s understanding of how mindfulness interventions (which practices, and in what sequence etc) can be assembled in response to their specific teaching context is critical for student learning, not only the mindfulness practices but also the unit of study.

Placed within the ‘Relational’ level, LO4 charges the participant with skills for teaching students how to respond to the stress response, understand the cognitive aspects of stress and mindful stress reduction, which is critical in an educational setting. Of equal importance is performance, communication, relationships and movement. The program participant will be teaching students how to apply mindfulness practices to situations/approaches that contribute to impaired performance, including distraction, multi-tasking, apathy, mindsets and cognitive biases. Communication and relationships can also contribute to impaired performance and stress – with this learning outcome the participant will be able to teach students how to apply mindfulness practices to these contexts.

Placed within the ‘Multistructural’ level, LO5 equips the participant to better understand how students learn and how mindfulness-based learning experiences can be embedded in their teaching practice. As this program is designed for practising teachers, it’s likely the participant will have their own unique approach and preferences for learning theory and principles preferences that informs their existing teaching practice. While this is understandable, this learning outcome is predicated on learning in a digital age and how the affordances of technology can increase the availability of mindfulness-based experiences that can better equip students for the rigours of study and ensure they’re less stressed and performing at the best of their academic abilities.


Assessment

The Mindfulness ‘Train-the-Trainer’ program contains three summative assessment tasks.

Assessment task 1: Leading a meditation session

For this assessment task (AT), the participant is required to submit a recording of them leading a meditation session (maximum 10 minutes). The purpose of this assessment is for the participant to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in formal mindful practices and the application of mindfulness practices to unique contexts. This assessment reflects the participant’s eventual teaching context, where they’ll need to lead a meditation session within their digital offering and / or provide instruction and support around their student’s use of digital tools.

The meditation session must be based on the participant’s context and must include any additional information that may be needed by the audience prior to commencement of the session. As part of the submission, a transcript of the meditation used in the session must be provided. The submission format is flexible, meaning a video or audio recording of the participant leading the session is acceptable. If audio is submitted, supplementary photographs of the participant demonstrating the desired position / posture are required to provide an equivalent instructional experience. The video hosting service used to submit the recording is also flexible, where the participants can choose from a service that permits sharing of ‘Unlisted’ videos, for example Vimeo or YouTube.

To guide the participant’s submission, the following materials will be provided: expository information (assessment task brief / scope, how-to information, technical requirements, deadlines, academic integrity) including a worked example, assessment rubric, and references to related learning materials.

Format: Multimedia (Video, Audio, Photographs / Images, Written)

Word count: Determined by duration of meditation (if 10 minutes, roughly 1,000 to 2,00 words)

Weight (%total mark): 20%

This assessment task aligns with a number of key elements (1, 2, 3, 7 and 9) from a model of authentic learning (Herrington, Thomas & Oliver, 2010) and maps to LO2 and LO4. Refer to Appendix A for the assessment task rubric.

Assessment task 2 – Implementation plan for a mindfulness intervention

For this assessment task, the participant is required to submit an implementation plan for a mindfulness intervention in their teaching context. The purpose of this assessment is for the participant to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in formulating mindfulness interventions to facilitate learning in their specific context. This assessment reflects the participant’s eventual teaching context, where they’ll need to plan, explain and advocate for the mindfulness intervention to be included as part of their teaching. The resulting plan could also potentially be used to inform similar interventions carried out by peers, or even elsewhere within the organisation.

The participant’s plan will need to describe the teaching context, goals and objectives, the resource implications (personnel, budget, tools, equipment and technology, facilities), schedule, management and reporting, any risks (of implementing or not implementing the mindfulness intervention), and associated contingencies.

Like Assessment task 1, this assessment task will provide expository information including a worked example, assessment rubric, references to related learning materials within the program will also be included to guide the participant’s assessment submission.

Format: Written

Word count: 1500

Weight (%total mark): 30%

This assessment task aligns with a number of key elements (1, 2, 3, 7 and 9) from a model of authentic learning (Herrington, Thomas & Oliver, 2010) and maps to LO2, LO3 and LO4. Refer to Appendix B for the assessment task rubric.

Assessment task 3 – Mindfulness intervention business case

For this assessment task, the participant is required to submit a business case for a mindfulness intervention in their teaching context. Building on AT2, the purpose of the assessment is for the participant to demonstrate their reasoning for initiating a mindfulness intervention in their specific learning context and to provide stakeholders with information they need to make a decision. This assessment reflects the participant’s eventual teaching context, where they’ll need to communicate the strategic, economic, commercial, financial and management ‘cases’ of the mindfulness intervention to stakeholders, who are most likely responsible for approving and resourcing the intervention.

The business case must contain an executive summary, finance, project definition, project organisation section (Workfront, 2019) and must provide a clear justification for the intervention on the basis of its expected benefit to students and the organisation.

Like previous assessment tasks, this assessment will provide expository information to guide the assessment submission.

Format: Written

Word count: 2500

Weight (%total mark): 50%

This assessment task aligns with a number of key elements (1, 2, 3, 7 and 9) from a model of authentic learning (Herrington, Thomas & Oliver, 2010) and maps to LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5. Refer to Appendix C for assessment task rubric.


Learning activities

For this program, it’s assumed that all learning activities are inherently social, where participants, as described by Laurillard (2012), learn through peer discussion. Participants can share their thoughts on prescribed discussions, provide their own comments and respond to others, reflect on what they’ve learned, and check their understanding with a quiz. It’s also assumed that participants can engage with content and be provided with ‘mentoring’ from highly responsive members of the course team on the platform, and elicit extrinsic feedback from the lead educators on their activity (which is then provided via email and bespoke summary videos).

Learning activity – What do you know about mindfulness?

For this learning activity, participants need to share what they know about mindfulness with other participants, watch a video featuring mindfulness experts introducing mindfulness and then reflect on any ideas or concepts presented in the video that are new, meaningful or challenge their existing assumptions of mindfulness and mindfulness practices. Participants then share their personal reflection, list ideas or concepts important to them and then briefly explain how these ideas or concepts could be integrated or change their existing teaching practice. Participants then select one idea or concept and then elaborate on how they’re going to practise it / apply it outside of the online program and to their teaching context.

This learning activity adopts the 4-A Model, where participants anchor the content within their experience, add new information, apply the content in a new way or to a new situation and then decide how they will use this learning in the future (Goetzman, 2012). The activity aligns with all nine elements from a model of authentic learning (Herrington, Thomas & Oliver, 2010) and also maps to LO1, LO3, LO4, LO5 and assessment task (AT) 2 and AT3.

For a mockup of the learning activity, please refer to Appendix D.

Learning activity – Out of the chair and into your life!

For this learning activity, participants need to share what they know about formal and informal mindfulness practice and watch a video featuring experts describing each practice, its application, differences, strategies and exercises and digital tools that can help increase an awareness of mindful development. Participants then reflect on any ideas, concepts or digital tools presented in the video that are new, already aware of or are meaningful and contribute to their development. Then, participants share their reflection, explaining how they could apply formal and informal mindfulness practices to teaching context. Participants then share the digital tools they’ve chosen to help support their mindful development and help track their progress.

This learning activity adopts the 4-A Model (Goetzman, 2012) and aligns with all nine elements from a model of authentic learning (Herrington, Thomas & Oliver, 2010). It also maps to LO2, LO3, LO4 and AT1 and AT2.

For a mockup of the learning activity, please refer to please refer to Appendix E, Appendix F and Appendix G.

Learning activity – Flip the script

For this learning activity, participants need to identify an aspect from their teaching context that would benefit from a mindfulness intervention, prepare a script for meditation that benefits the identified aspect and then share it with other participants for review and feedback. After receiving feedback on their work, the participant needs to reflect on any amendments they would improve their script. As part of the learning activity, the participant will also need to provide feedback on a script submitted by at least one other participant.

This learning activity aligns with all nine elements from a model of authentic learning (Herrington, Thomas & Oliver, 2010) and maps to LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 and AT1, AT2 and AT3.

For a mockup of the learning activity, please refer to Appendix H.


Relevance

My approach outlined in the digital learning intervention supports the learning activities and assessments, and meets the learning outcomes and needs of the participants by the very nature of being digital. Being digital is a direct response to the limited availability or exclusivity of mindfulness training (that’s traditionally been face-to-face / workshop based). Being digital means the program is immediately more accessible to prospective participants, it can operate at scale and seamlessly incorporate existing and emerging digital services and tools, potentially from other partners / providers. Being digital also means that participants can collaboratively construct knowledge (for example, through the creation of scripts, meditations etc), which is an efficiency for the program participant, where in their eventual teaching context they’ll need to formulate (or at least clearly articulate to developers and designers) their own mindfulness learning experiences.


References

This reference list both acknowledges and attributes the original authors and sources of information included in this digital intervention learning plan.

Assessment Design Decisions (n.d.). Assessment Design Framework. Retrieved from http://www.assessmentdecisions.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Appendix-A-the-Assessment-Design-Decisions-Framework.pdf

Biggs, J.B., & Collis, K., F. (1982). Evaluating the quality of learning : the SOLO taxonomy (structure of the observed learning outcome). Academic Press, New York

Broyd, S.J., Demanuele, C., Debener, S., Helps, S.K., James, C.J., & Sonuga-Barke, E.J. (2009). Default-mode brain dysfunction in mental disorders: a systematic review. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 33(3), 279-296.

Chan, D., & Woollacott, M. (2007). Effects of level of meditation experience on attentional focus: is the efficiency of executive or orientation networks improved?. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 13(6), 651-658.

Gambrel, L.E., & Keeling, M.L. (2010). Relational aspects of mindfulness: Implications for the practice of marriage and family therapy. Contemporary Family Therapy, 32(4), 412-426.

Goetzman, D., M. (2012) Dialogue Education Step by Step: A Guide for Designing Exceptional Learning Events. Global Learning Partners, Inc.

Hassed, C. (n.d.). The Health Benefits of Meditation and Being Mindful. Retrieved from https://www.monash.edu/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/694192/The-health-benefits-of-meditation-and-being-mindful.pdf

Herrington, J., Thomas, C., Oliver, R. (2010). A Guide to Authentic e-Learning. New York and London: Routledge.

Hofmann, S., G., Sawyer, A., T., Witt, A., A., & Oh, D. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 78(2), 169.

Laurillard, D. (2012). Teaching as a design science: Building pedagogical patterns for learning and technology. Routledge: London.

Ramsburg, J., Youmans, R. (2013). Meditation in the Higher-Education Classroom: Meditation Training Improves Student Knowledge Retention during Lectures. Mindfulness. 5. 10.1007/s12671-013-0199-5.

Sheline, Y. I., Barch, D. M., Price, J. L., Rundle, M. M., Vaishnavi, S. N., Snyder, A. Z., … & Raichle, M. E. (2009). The default mode network and self-referential processes in depression. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(6), 1942-1947.

World Wide Web Consortium. (2018) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. Retrieved from https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/

Workfront. (2019). How to Write a Business Case ― 4 Steps to a Perfect Business Case Template. Retrieved from https://www.workfront.com/blog/how-to-write-a-business-case-4-steps-to-a-perfect-business-case-template#thebusinesscasetemplate

Zenner, C., Herrnleben-Kurz, S., Walach, H., (2014). Mindfulness-based interventions in schools—a systematic review and meta-analysis. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00603/full


Appendix A

Rubric for ‘Assessment task 1: Leading a meditation session’.

Criteria Excellent (HD) Very good (D) Good (C) Satisfactory (P) Unsatisfactory (F)

Introducing the practice

Explanation of the formal mindfulness practice (25%)

Explanation of formal mindfulness practice is thorough and includes highly detailed information on how the practice applies to the unique context. Explanation of the formal mindfulness practice is very clear and provides a detailed description of how the practice applies to the unique context. Explanation of the formal mindfulness practice is clear and provides a reasonable description of how the practice applies to the unique context. Explanation of the formal mindfulness practice is rudimentary and provides a brief description of how the practice applies to the unique context. Explanation of formal mindfulness practice is unclear and / or not shown. There is no information given to how the practice applies to the unique context.

Preparation and position

Demonstration of seating / position and relevant preparatory information (25%)

Seating / position is clearly demonstrated and of exceptional standard. Highly detailed preparatory information has been included. Seating / position is clearly shown. Detailed preparatory information has been included. Seating / position is shown. Preparatory information of reasonable quality has been included. Seating / position is shown. Some preparatory information has been included, but lacks detail. Seating / position is unclear and/or not shown. Preparatory information has not been included.

Guiding the practice

Effective instruction and guidance (25%)

Instruction and guidance throughout practice is detailed and sequential. Highly detailed debrief/enquiry process has been included. Instruction and guidance throughout practice is very clear and sequential. Detailed debrief/enquiry process has been included. Instruction and guidance throughout practice is clear and sequential. debrief/enquiry process has been included. Instruction and guidance throughout practice is provided. A debrief/enquiry process has been included, but lacks detail. Instruction and guidance throughout practice is unclear, nonsequential and/or not provided.

Debrief/enquiry process has not been included.

Challenges and difficulties

Description of challenges and and difficulties associated with the mindfulness practice (25%)

Description is extremely thorough and concludes with highly detailed information on management / solutions to challenges. Description of challenges are clearly described and detailed solutions or approaches to managing the challenges have been provided. Description of challenges is clear and possible solutions or approaches to managing the challenges have been provided. Description of challenges is provided. Solutions or approaches to managing challenges have been provided, but lacks depth and detail. Description is unclear and/or not provided. Solutions or approaches to managing challenges in the future are not provided.

Appendix B

Rubric for ‘Assessment task 2 – Implementation plan for a mindfulness intervention’.

Criteria Excellent (HD) Very good (D) Good (C) Satisfactory (P) Unsatisfactory (F)

Background

Learning context, identified need (15%)

Learning context is highly detailed and defined, and need for mindfulness intervention in cohort is clearly articulated. Learning context is detailed and need for intervention has been articulated. Cohort not identified Learning context is detailed. Need for mindfulness intervention has been identified, but lacking detail. Learning context is provided. Need for mindfulness intervention has been identified. Learning context is unclear and / or not shown. Need for intervention not shown.

Goals and objectives

Goals and objectives of intervention and intended outcomes (15%)

Goals and objectives are clearly defined. Intended outcomes are clearly articulated and measurable. Goals and objectives are defined. Intended outcomes have been included, but are not measurable. Goals and objectives are defined. Intended outcomes included, but measurement strategies unclear. Goals, objectives and intended outcomes have been listed. Goals and objectives unclear. Intended outcomes not shown.

Resource implications

Budget, tools, equipment, technology and personnel (15%)

Highly detailed and comprehensive list of resources, with detailed explanation of digital tools / services. Detailed list of required resources, and mentions digital tools / services. Detailed list of required resources. Digital tools / services not mentioned. Incomplete list resources shown, but lacks detail. Required resources not shown.

Schedule

Timeline, schedule of events, duration (15%)

Highly detailed schedule, describes in detail ‘peak periods’ and duration for cohort / events. Detailed schedule and timeline. ‘Peak periods’ for cohort listed. Detailed schedule of events and timeline. Schedule shown, but the timeline is unclear. Schedule not shown.

Management and reporting

How the project will be managed, reported and reviewed (15%)

Highly detailed explanation of how the project will be managed, reported and reviewed. Detailed explanation of how the project will be managed, reported and reviewed. Some explanation of how the project will be managed, reported and reviewed. Unclear explanation of how the project will be managed, reported and reviewed. Management and reporting not provided.

Evaluation

Strategies for measuring success (15%)

Highly detailed metrics, milestones and performance measures linked to goals, objectives and reporting. Detailed metrics, milestones and performance measures. Metrics, milestones and performance measures have been listed. Metrics and milestones have been listed but performance measures are unclear. Strategies not provided.

Risks and contingencies

Description of risks to intervention and alternative actions (5%)

Highly detailed description of associated risks and comprehensive contingency plan. Detailed description of associated risks. Contingency planning has limited scope. Detailed description of associated risks. Contingency planning is unclear. Associated risks and a contingency plan has been listed. Associated risks and contingency plans not provided.

Expression and grammar

Scholarly, succinct with correct spelling, grammar and punctuation (5%)

Writing style is exceptional, scholarly and succinct that’s free from spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Writing style is scholarly, free from spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Writing style is scholarly, but wordy. Free from spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Writing is scholarly and wordy. Contains some grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors. Writing is unscholarly. Many grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors.

Appendix C

Rubric for ‘Assessment task 3 – Mindfulness intervention business case’.

Criteria Excellent (HD) Very good (D) Good (C) Satisfactory (P) Unsatisfactory (F)

Executive summary

Summarises business case (5%)

Summary of business case is thorough and succinctly conveys critical information about the mindfulness intervention. Summary of business case is very clear provides information about the intervention. Summary of business case is clear and provides information about the intervention. Summary of business case is rudimentary and lacks detail. Summary of business case is unclear or not provided.

Finance

Conveys financial implications (5%)

Describes in detail all financial implications for intervention, comparisons of intervention costs against benefits and all associated costs. Lists all financial implications for intervention, comparisons of intervention costs against benefits and all associated costs. Lists all financial implications for intervention, comparisons of intervention costs against benefits and some associated costs. Lists some financial implications for intervention, comparisons of intervention costs against benefits and some associated costs. All financial implications unclear or not provided.

Project definition

Explains the ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ (20%)

Highly detailed description of background, objectives, benefits and limitations, scope, business interests and associated risks. Very clear description of background, objectives, benefits and limitations, scope, business interests and associated risks. Clear description of background, objectives, benefits and limitations, scope, business interests and associated risks. Limited description of background, objectives, benefits and limitations, scope, business interests and associated risks. The ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ is unclear or not provided.

Project organisation

Describes how intervention will be set up (10%)

Highly detailed and accurate description of how the intervention is linked to organisational governance framework. Clearly defined reporting measures. Detailed and accurate description of linkage to organisational governance framework. Clearly defined reporting measures. Accurate description of linkage to organisational governance framework. Defined reporting measures. Limited description of linkage to organisational governance framework. Some reporting measures provided. Linkages to established organisational governance framework or reporting measures not provided.

Strategic case

A case for change that fits strategic objectives of the organisation (10%)

Highly compelling case that meets all strategic objectives of the organisation. Compelling case that meets most strategic objectives of the organisation. Case meets some strategic objectives of the organisation. Case meets few strategic objectives of the organisation. No strategic objectives provided.

Economic case

Economic value (10%)

Case demonstrates incredibly high economic value to the organisation. Case demonstrates some economic value to the organisation. Case demonstrates low economic value to the organisation. Economic value to organisation unclear. Economic value not shown.

Commercial case

Commercial value and viability (10%)

Case demonstrates high commercial value and viability. Case demonstrates some commercial value and viability. Case demonstrates little or low commercial value and viability. Commercial value and viability unclear. Commercial value and viability of intervention not shown.

Financial case

Financial investment is affordable (10%)

Case clearly demonstrates affordability of intervention, and cost of not carrying out intervention. Case demonstrates affordability of intervention, and cost of not carrying out intervention. Case provides financial information, with limited affordability and cost of not carrying out intervention. Case provides some financial information, but affordability of intervention and cost of not carrying out intervention is unclear. Financial case is not provided.

Management case

Input from stakeholders is achievable (10%)

Presents highly detailed and accurate description of stakeholders and their level of input. Clear description of stakeholders and their level of input. Some stakeholders and their level of input provided. Some stakeholder information and level of input provided, but unclear. No stakeholder information was provided.

Presentation, expression and grammar

Structure and formatting of business case. Scholarly, succinct with correct spelling, grammar and punctuation (10%)

Structure and format is accurate. Writing style is exceptional, scholarly and succinct that’s free from spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Structure and format is accurate. Writing style is scholarly, free from spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Structure and format partially adopted. Writing style is scholarly, but wordy. Free from spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Structure and format partially adopted with errors. Writing scholarly and wordy. Contains some grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors. Structure and format not present. Writing unscholarly. Many grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors.

Appendix D

Mockup of the ‘What do you know about mindfulness?’ learning activity as a digital experience.

Watch Associate Professor Henry Smyth-Jones and Dr Ingrid Magnusson provide an overview of mindfulness, its history and origins, its practices and the emerging science and evidence on this area.

As you’re watching, consider the evidence and examples of mindfulness and its application that are being presented.

Talk about it

Within the Comments, share with other learners your thoughts on one or more of the following talking points:

  • Although you might, we don’t assume you have had any prior experience with mindfulness or its applications. Of the ideas presented in the video, which ones are new to you or challenge your existing ideas of mindfulness, its practices and application?
  • Which ideas, science evidence or examples of the application of mindfulness do you find most meaningful to you and your professional teaching practice, and what are some ways you could apply or integrate them into your teaching?

Also consider reading and commenting on contributions made by other learners or following learners with similar interests as you. You can also ‘Like’ comments or follow other learners throughout the course.

Act on it

Choose an idea or concept that you found most meaningful, and then starting this week, act on it by finding out more about how others are applying the idea or concept to their professional practice (not necessarily in the field of education). For example, you may like to investigate how mindfulness is being introduced into sporting codes, business/corporate environments or in creative applications.

Throughout the week carry out your investigation, and then at the end of the week, return to this step then share what you’ve found out in the Comments.

If you’d like to find out more about the research and current thinking in this area, consider exploring the links in the See also section of this step. There, you’ll also find links to more scholarly articles on mindfulness and its effects on wellbeing from peer reviewed journals. We hope you find them useful.


Appendix E

Mockup of the ‘Out of the chair and into your life!’ learning activity as a digital experience.

Watch Professor Joni Alferson and Associate Professor Mitch Murray discuss the differences between informal and formal mindfulness practices, their application and tools that are available, and more.

As you’re watching, consider which practices you could apply to your teaching context and the challenges associated with doing so.

Talk about it

Within the Comments, share with other learners your thoughts on one or more of the following talking points:

  • Of the informal and formal mindfulness practices presented in the video, which ones do you think are most relevant to your professional practice?
  • Which informal and formal mindfulness practices would you like to try and how might you go about establishing your own mindfulness practice?

Also consider reading and commenting on contributions made by other learners or following learners with similar interests as you. You can also ‘Like’ comments or follow other learners throughout the course.

Act on it

Choose a teaching context or situation where you’d like to me more mindful, and then starting this week, act on it by practising mindfulness. For example, you may want to be more mindful at work or in your studies, or even make a very conscious effort to avoid unhelpful multi-tasking, or not to be drawn into the distractions around you so you can focus on a task of greatest importance to you.

Play the meditations available in this course or use apps such as Smiling Mind or Headspace. Be sure to track your progress with a mindfulness practice record, which is available in a print friendly or digital format.

Remember, your practice record is a valuable means of looking back over these changes, reflecting where you have come from and where you want to go to.


Appendix F

Mockup of a print friendly mindfulness practice record template (Can be filled out electronically) for the ‘What do you know about mindfulness?’ learning activity.

Day Formal mindfulness practice Informal mindfulness practice Mindfulness practised in other ways
Sample entry Conducted 10 minute body scan. Noticed tension in my body and was able to let it go. Felt more relaxed by the end. Listened to birdsong on walk to work. Such a nice way to start the day, and noticed that I was calmer and more present at work. Turned off notifications on my phone/Flight mode to stop myself from being distracted from priority tasks.
Monday      
Tuesday      
Wednesday      
Thursday      
Friday      
Saturday      
Sunday      

Appendix G

Screen capture of daily mindfulness practice record included for reference only. Functional mindfulness practice record can be accessed from https://forms.gle/Jd5ayyBccTk2LTMX8


Appendix H

Mockup of the ‘Flip the script’ learning activity as a digital experience.

It’s time to bring together what you know about formal mindfulness practice and its application by writing your own script for a 5 minute meditation that would benefit an aspect of your teaching context (stress, performance, communication and relationships etc).

After you submit your script, you will then be asked to read and comment on a submission by another program participant.

What you need to do

Choose an aspect from your teaching context (stress, performance, communication and relationships etc) that would benefit from a mindfulness intervention. Your task is to write a meditation script for the teaching context, and explain its usage. Your script will have three parts.

  1. Write an introduction by briefly describing the meditation and how it complements the context (No more than 100 words).
  2. Write the meditation script (No more than 400 words). Remember, gently lead the listener through the meditation being sure to clearly describe what they’re to do or the sensations they may feel.
  3. Write a debrief, briefly describing what the listener is to do next and how they can continue to practise the meditation (No more than 100 words).

These three sections match the guidelines that will be used by other learners to review and provide feedback.

Giving effective feedback

Once you have submitted your script, you will be invited to give feedback on the work submitted by another learner. In other words, a peer review.

Constructive feedback, and the process of reflecting on the feedback you receive on your own script, are both very powerful learning opportunities, and we hope that you give and receive feedback in the spirit of creating a supportive learning environment. Here are some tips on how to give the other learner effective feedback on their work:

  • Make sure that the tone of your feedback is always constructive. There is no place in this peer review process for feedback that is negative, disrespectful or derogatory.
  • Make sure that your feedback addresses the three criteria set for the task: introduction, the meditation itself, and the debrief. If you are making suggestions, make sure they are clear, and align with one of these criteria.
  • Emphasise the positives of what your peer submitted. Look for things they did well.
  • Remember the context of this task. The task is to write a script for a 5 minute meditation that would benefit an aspect of your teaching context. Therefore, please make sure your comments and suggestions are appropriate for this task.

Reviewing the work of another learner

First read through the piece without making any notes or comments. Then read through a second time, taking the time to consider each point that is made.

Using the guidelines provided, write brief comments that provide constructive feedback to the author. Point out anything that you found particularly interesting, what you found challenging and what you learnt.

Before you submit your review, please read through again so that you can add anything you’ve missed and ensure that your comments are easy to understand. The more reviews you can do, the more you help others and learn from their experiences.


Research plan – They’re back! To what extent and in what ways do particular pedagogical dimensions, or combinations of, contribute to repeated learner participation in an online course over consecutive or non-consecutive runs?

Introduction

Since their emergence in the mid-2000s, massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been predicated on making learning available to everyone, and at scale. Much effort has been spent analysing data generated by MOOC participants (eg., Guo, Kim & Rubin, 2014; Savage, 2009; Wang, 2017) to determine if video production methods, format, style, type or even duration has the capacity to solely influence student learning and engagement. While the use of instructional video by educators isn’t new to face-to-face or online learning experiences, it does serve as a critical and primary means of content delivery in a MOOC. Research across a variety of MOOCS (eg., Engle, Mankoff & Carbrey 2015; Hew & Cheung, 2008; Taib, Chuah & Aziz, 2017) has also been conducted into better understanding the impact of pedagogical dimensions such as cooperative learning, feedback, activities and assessments on learner participation, therefore suggesting that there may be more factors to cultivating an engaging learning experience than video instruction alone. These factors may seem elementary for a single instance or one-off run of a MOOC, but what of repeat learners – those learners who repeatedly join and then continue to actively participate in the same MOOC over multiple instances? An example of this cohort would be the learners who continue to participate in Monash University’s ‘Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance’ (MIND) and ‘Maintaining a Mindful Life’ (MINDLIFE) courses on FutureLearn.

I currently work in a central unit within Monash University responsible for the design, development and delivery of short online courses with education partner FutureLearn. MIND is one of our longest running courses and continues to enjoy a large learner cohort who actively and consistently engage with the course content, other learners and the course team. The positive learner response to MIND stimulated the release of MINDLIFE, a complementary course which has also been well received by learners. While the design, development and delivery of Monash’s other non-mindfulness courses are remarkably similar to the two mindfulness offerings, it has become evident that these courses may not attract repeat learners (over consecutive or non-consecutive runs) in a similar way. But why? The purpose of this research is to identify, explore and provide a detailed account of the extent and ways in which particular pedagogical dimensions, or combinations of, contribute to repeated learner participation in an online course over consecutive or non-consecutive runs.

This research has a number of potential benefits, for individual respondents, education/teaching and learning, and designers and developers of online courses. Respondents may find it interesting to reflect on their ongoing participation in an online course and note any particular elements or experiences they’ve find to be particularly important to them or that have influenced their ongoing course participation. More broadly, this research should help improve our understanding of online learners’ motivation to continue to participate in an online course over consecutive or non-consecutive runs which could then be used to increase ongoing course participation as well as guide the design, development and delivery of alternate or expanded online course offerings.

Literature review

The following identifies key themes from literature related to pedagogical dimensions, or combinations of, inherent in online courses, thus providing context for my research.

The use of video

Although the use of video isn’t exclusive to MOOCs, video is the primary means of content delivery. Each MOOC is unique, where educators, course content designers and producers work together to create video content that makes use of a diverse combination of video types (text, static image, image and presenter face/talking head and fully animated) and video design elements (static slides, digital ink/scribbler/analysis, discussion/discursive), that complements the pedagogical approach. The impact of video production on learning is of great interest to educators and MOOC producers. Guo, Kim and Rubin (2014) found that videos of short duration are engaging to learners. An equal level of engagement was identified for videos types that featured the ‘talking head’ of a presenter or used digital ink/scribbler/analysis to provide a more detailed explanation. Neilson (2014) and Savage (2009) support the approach of videos of short duration. To maintain learner engagement, Neilson (2014) recommended that videos should combine different video types and design elements, such as a presenter face/talking head with a digital ink/scribbler/analysis. Multiple studies have investigated the role of cinematography and cinema production design/methodology on learner engagement. In his research, Wang (2017) identified camera shot style and background design ‘down to the granularity of how the image is captured, recorded and delivered’ (Wang 2017) to be as equally as important as video types and video design elements on learner attention and engagement. In addition, Wang, Chen and Wu (2015) observed the impact of different video types and video design elements on learning. They concluded that the production cost and intensity associated with creating ‘lecture capture and picture-in-picture videos may be worthwhile for online learning from the perspectives of improved learning performance and reduced cognitive load’ (Wang, Chen and Wu 2015). The use of video isn’t reduced only to pre-prepared and pre-recorded content that contributes to the course material. Video can also be create in responsive to learner activity and play a critical role in enabling educators and instructors to provide feedback to learners throughout course delivery. Henderson and Phillips (2015) reported that the affordances of video enable instructors to convey detailed and elaborate feedback as well as encouragement and praise to learners more so than written commentary. Henderson and Phillips (2015) also reported positive learner response to video-based feedback, where learners felt they had a closer connection with the instructors or educators. Echoing the reports from Henderson and Phillips are learner reviews posted online ‘The final feedback video each week is the jewel in their crown. It sums up the week’s thoughts and mentions some of the issues and talking points brought up in the online comments’ and ‘The weekly feedback sessions allowed the participants to feel engaged and gave a more personal feel to an online course’ (Class Central 2018). The use of video-based feedback in this capacity not only addresses any potential knowledge deficit experienced by learners, makes the ‘makes the massive feel intimate’ (Pappano 2018), but also personalised the course in a meaningful and practical way, while actively contributing to the change in learner perceptions of the course as the type where an ‘instructor is not as available because there are tens of thousands of others in the class’ (Pappano 2012).

The role of the facilitator

When thinking about why learners persist with a course or even choose to repeat the same course again, it’s critical to consider the role of instructors, course mentors or any of the multitudes of names for the course team members responsible for facilitating discussions and interacting with learners. According to Hew (2014), instructor accessibility and passion are some of the features that were identified as key for promoting learner engagement, where engagement is defined as an observable action in the course. While engagement is different from completion and retention (which in MOOCS, are an often misconstrued metric devised by educators and platform providers for defining their view of learner success, satisfaction, needs or goals) an analysis by Adamopoulos (2013) revealed that the role of the instructor did have the largest possible effect on the likelihood of completion. Learner reviews posted online ‘In addition to this there are two outstanding mentors who support the learning and help clarify the more scientific aspects of the course and make lots of useful links and resourses [sic] available to enable the independant [sic] exploration of a complex subject’ (Class Central 2018), ‘The moderators are extremely active in their support for learners’ (Class Central 2018) and ‘The mentors had valuable insights and comments and added a lot’ (Class Central 2018) echo the findings of Adamopoulos (2013) and Pilli & Admiraal (2017) in relation to learner interaction with an instructor, where learner retention and satisfaction is higher when instructors are highly responsive. However, some earlier literature on MOOCS (Kop, 2011; Mackness, 2013; Milligan & Littlejohn, 2014) seemingly bemoan the absence of interaction between instructors and learners, asserting that learners may be prevented from having a quality learning experience due to their limited capacity to undertake self-directed learning. In the past, a diminished learning experience may have been inevitable, considering the vintage of the online environment in which their learner cohort was constrained (the anti-social EdX platform and the hardcore Connectivist Edupunk-ness of the open web). Since the launch of FutureLearn, a platform that’s been ‘inspired by Laurillard’s Conversational Framework’ (Sánchez-Vera, Maria del Mar, Leon Urrutia, Manuel and Davis, Hugh C 2015), a diminished learning experience seems less likely as the platform is predicated on a social learning experience, instructor-learner, learner-learner and learner-content.

A learning continuum

According to Horrigan (2016), people undertake learning for personal and professional reasons. Personal learners often choose learning opportunities that are likely increase their knowledge and skills that benefit themselves and others. Professional learners often choose learning opportunities that are likely to maintain or improve their knowledge and skills. Irrespective of the learner’s inclination for undertaking learning, the opportunity must be flexible and permit the learner drop-in and out at their discretion, often at intervals throughout their life, much like ‘a personal learning continuum, rather than as unrelated, separate gatherings’ (Aras Bozkurt & Jeffrey Keefer 2018). Communities that foster a culture of participatory learning contribute to the premise of lifelong learning, something to be part of, an idea ‘that the teaching and learning experience, the idea of imagining where you stand within in that environment is something that’s akin to the DIY punk experience‘ (Groom 2016). While the course creates an environment for this type of experience, its an environment that is suited for a learner that is self-determined, attentive, can think critically, reason, and is ready to collaborate (Pegrum, 2009). The presence of instructors is once again critical, where they support learners, the development of a community of learning, all the while gently guiding learners through the course. This raises the question as to why learners continue to participate and persist with a course and continue to engage in the community of learning. As MOOCS are voluntary, is it possible that learners simply enjoy being part of a community or their goals to deepen their knowledge and skills are being met, or is it the convenience, ease of use and flexibility afforded by the platform, or possibly even something else entirely that’s related to their individual needs that’s being served? Learners (Class Central, 2018) who participated in either or both of the mindfulness-related offerings by Monash reported ‘The two courses that I have been blessed with the opportunity to do on a number of ocassions [sic] have really enhanced the quality of not just my life but those who share their lives with me in any way. I am simply a better person for the learnings that I have had through undertaking the courses’, ‘I have found the leaders, Craig and Richard, really engaging and great role models for their subject, being calm, measured and reassuring, but also inspirational and encouraging. The strength of the course is their rapport in the short videos and audios which acknowledge human frailty and make the continuing practice of mindfulness seem vital and attainable in daily life.’ and ‘I plan to take the course again when it is offered in November, so I can delve more deeply into this more authentic way of viewing the world and living my life’, which provides some insight into their ongoing participation. Furthermore, the learner sentiment expressed towards the mindfulness related offerings is somewhat akin to the model proposed by Peltier, Drago, and Schibrowsky (2003), that identified student-to-student interactions, student-instructor interactions and instructor support and mentoring, as well as course content, course structure and information delivery technology as key components to learner perceived quality of the online learning experience.

Research methodology

This research is situated in the postpositivist paradigm, which is predicated on the need to identify and assess the causes of outcomes (Creswell 2018). This seems to be the most appropriate for my research because, as noted by Phillips and Bourbles (2000), data, evidence and rational considerations shape knowledge. For my research, knowledge will be accrued from data gathered from measurement tools (surveys) completed by respondents or from direct observation (semi-structured interviews). Creswell (2018) astutely synthesised elements from work of Phillips and Bourbles (2000) that argues research seeks to develop relevant, true statements, ones that can serve to explain the situation of concern or that describe the causal relationships of interest. Explaining the causal relationships is most critical for my research, particularly when I’ll be required propose a possible relationship between pedagogical dimensions, or combinations of, that contribute to repeated learner participation. This research will make use of an explanatory sequential mixed methods design approach, which leverages quantitative and qualitative research data. Creswell (2000) notes the overall intent of this design is to have the qualitative data help explain in more detail the initial quantitative results. Fittingly, the affordances of the FutureLearn platform means that quantitative data about course participant activity is readily available which will streamline the first phase of the two-phase design approach. A two-phase design approach with advantages, that according to (Morse 1991) include straightforwardness and opportunities for the exploration of the quantitative results in more detail.

*Based upon the ‘Visual model for mixed-methods sequential explanatory design procedures’ outlined by Ivankova, Creswell & Stick (2006).

Data collection procedures

Initially, quantitative data will be collected from datasets automatically generated from learner activity in the platform. Additional quantitative and principal qualitative data will then be collected from learners who have previously taken part in either Monash mindfulness course. They will be invited to participate in an anonymous 10-15 minute online survey via custom course notices (scheduled emails sent to learners), together with learners currently completing the course. Learners will also be invited to participate in the survey from strategically placed call-to-actions/call-outs within course content combined with carefully prepared ‘nudges’ included in scheduled course notices throughout course delivery. At the end of the survey, learners will be invited to take part in a semi-structured interview, scheduled on their availability. Data will be gathered from Monash-based Qualtrics surveys and datasets (comments, weekly sentiment surveys, step activity, post-course survey data etc) readily available from the stats dashboard of each run of each mindfulness course on FutureLearn. Qualtrics was chosen as the online survey tool due to its organisational endorsement and support as well its accessibility features and responsive design, which contributes to the ease of survey completion by respondents who may choose to answer using a range of devices (mobile phones, tablets and computers). This project is considered to be low risk and respondents are unlikely to experience any serious harm from participating.

The participants

Since it’s first run in 2015, over 254,000 learners have participated in MIND, with over 27,000 learners taking part in MINDLIFE since its inception in 2017. These learners, and any new learners that join any new run of either mindfulness course will be invited to participate in the online survey.

The setting

FutureLearn is the platform which hosts the two mindfulness-based courses offered by Monash (MIND and MINDLIFE) and will serve as an appropriate and relevant context to engage with learners.

Data analysis

Online survey responses, FutureLearn datasets, interview transcripts and audio recordings will be imported into NVivo for thematic analysis based on identified pedagogical themes, with the provision for the creation of new themes or modification of existing themes as they arise.

Limitations of the study

One key limitation of this research is the discipline specific nature of the course offerings. The mindfulness courses are made up of a number of pedagogical dimensions that create opportunities for learners to investigate the science and theoretical framework of mindfulness, but also cultivate and apply the skills as a deeply personal ongoing practise. While a lifelong commitment to learning and practising a particular skill is in no way exclusive to mindfulness or the course offerings, some disciplines may not lend themselves to a similar level of commitment. These differences would give strong caution for research findings that reduce or over simplify any recommendations that suggest a simple transposition of the course design.

Bibliography

Adamopoulos, P. (2013). What makes a great MOOC? An interdisciplinary analysis of student retention in online courses. In Thirty fourth international conference on information systems, Milan, 2013.

Aras Bozkurt & Jeffrey Keefer (2018) Participatory learning culture and community formation in connectivist MOOCs, Interactive Learning Environments, 26:6, 776-788.

Creswell, J.D., & Creswell, J.W. (2018). Research design: qualitative, quantitative & mixed methods approaches, 5th edn, Sage, Melbourne.

Class Central 2018, Maintaining a Mindful Life, retrieved 20 July 2018, <https://www.class-central.com/course/futurelearn-maintaining-a-mindful-life-9078#reviews>

Class Central 2018, Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance, retrieved 20 July 2018, <https://www.class-central.com/course/futurelearn-mindfulness-for-wellbeing-and-peak-performance-3714#reviews>

Guo, P. J., Kim, J., & Rubin, R. (2014). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of MOOC videos. In Proceedings of the first ACM conference on Learning@ scale (pp. 41-50).

Henderson, M., & Phillips, M. (2015). Video-based feedback on student assessment: scarily personal. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 31(1), 51-66.

Hew, K. F. (2014). Promoting engagement in online courses: what strategies can we learn from three highly rated MOOCS. British Journal of Educational Technology (Online First). http://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12235.

IMDB 2018, The Young Ones – Nasty, retrieved 21 July 2018, <https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0752259/>.

Kop, R. (2011). The challenges to connectivist learning on open online networks: learning experiences during a massive open online course. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3), 19e38.

Mackness, J. (2013). cMOOCs and xMOOCs-key differences. Available from: https://jennymackness.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/cmoocs-and-xmoocs-key-differences/.

Milligan, C., & Littlejohn, A. (2014). Supporting professional learning in a massive open online course. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 15(5), 197e213.

Neilson, B. (2014). Video Production and Learner Engagement in MOOCs, retrieved 22 July 2018, <http://www.yourtrainingedge.com/video-production-and-learner-engagement-in-moocs/>

Pegrum, M. (2009). From blogs to bombs: The future of digital technologies in education. Perth,
Australia: University of Western Australia Publishing.

Peltier, J.W., Drago, W., & Schibrowsky, J. A. (2003). Virtual communities and the assessment of online marketing education. Journal of Marketing Education, 25(3), 260e276.

Pew Research Center 2016, Lifelong Learning and Technology, retrieved 20 July 2018, <http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/03/22/lifelong-learning-and-technology/>

Phillips, D. C., & Burbles, N. C. (2000) Postpositivism and educational research. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Pilli, O., & Admiraal, W. (2017). Students’ learning outcomes in massive open online courses (MOOCs): Some suggestions for course design. Journal of Higher Education, 7(1), 46–71.

Sánchez-Vera, Maria del Mar, Leon Urrutia, Manuel and Davis, Hugh C. (2015) Challenges in the creation, development and implementation of MOOCs: Web Science course at the University of Southampton. Comunicar, 22 (44), 37-43.

The New York Times 2012, The Year of the MOOC, retrieved 21 July 2018, <https://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/education/edlife/massive-open-online-courses-are-multiplying-at-a-rapid-pace.html>

This Course Could Be Your Life, Keynote – Jim Groom 2016, YouTube, CIRT Lab, 3 March, retrieved 20 July 2018, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xk97NwetXtE>.

W. Wang, C. Chen and C. Wu, “Effects of Different Video Lecture Types on Sustained Attention, Emotion, Cognitive Load, and Learning Performance,” 2015 IIAI 4th International Congress on Advanced Applied Informatics, Okayama, 2015, pp. 385-390.

Wang, P.-Y. (2017). The impact of camera shot and background design for MOOC videos on student recall and flow experience. Journal of Educational Media and Library Science, 54(3):237-268


Hi Rowan

You did a very good job of using the literature to complement the purpose for a research project. However, I found it difficult to locate a clearly written research question within the text of the submitted paper; the research question is somewhat implied. You used research theory well to justified a mixed methods procedure but there were elements within the design that required more information, for instance:

  • whether the online survey is going to be designed to answer open or closed questions (or a combination of both)
  • how many participants will be interviewed
  • what process will be used to select participants for interviews
  • whether descriptive and/or inferential statistics will be used to analyse quantitative data, and
  • a review of the ethical considerations.

Targeting 250,000 participants to respond to an online survey is massive and not suited to a Master’s level research project seeing it will take considerable time to gather and analyse data. Random sampling should have been considered and discussed. The research project is of value within the field of education however the process needs to be narrowed down and clearly articulated.


Literature review: They always come: An assessment of pedagogical dimensions, or combinations of, that could possibly contribute to repeated participation by learners in an online course over multiple instances

Introduction

Since their emergence in the mid-2000s, massive open online courses (MOOC) have been predicated on making learning available to everyone, and at scale. While the use of instructional video by educators isn’t new to face-to-face or online learning experiences, it does serve as a critical and primary means of content delivery in a MOOC.

Much effort has been spent analysing data generated by MOOC participants (eg., Guo, Kim & Rubin, 2014; Savage, 2009; Wang, 2017) to determine if video production methods, format, style, type or even duration has the capacity to solely influence student learning and engagement. Research across a variety of MOOCS (eg., Engle, Mankoff & Carbrey 2015; Hew & Cheung, 2008; Taib, Chuah & Aziz, 2017) has also been conducted into better understanding the impact of pedagogical dimensions such as cooperative learning, feedback, activities and assessments on learner participation, therefore suggesting that there may be more factors to cultivating an engaging learning experience than video instruction alone.

These factors may seem elementary for a single instance or one-off run of a MOOC, but what of repeat learners – those learners who repeatedly join and then continue to actively participate in the same MOOC over multiple instances? An example of this cohort would be the learners who continue to participate in Monash University’s ‘Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance’ and ‘Maintaining a Mindful Life’ courses on FutureLearn.

This review aims to assess which pedagogical dimensions, or combinations of, that could possibly contribute to repeated participation by learners in an online course over multiple instances to assist the rise of continued ongoing course participation and guide course design for alternate and expanded online offerings.

Review of literature

‘Have we got a video? Yes, we’ve got a video!’ (Young Ones – Nasty 1986)

Although the use of video isn’t exclusive to MOOCs, video is the primary means of content delivery. Each MOOC is unique, where educators, course content designers and producers work together to create video content that makes use of a diverse combination of video types (text, static image, image and presenter face/talking head and fully animated) and video design elements (static slides, digital ink/scribbler/analysis, discussion/discursive), that complements the pedagogical approach. The impact of video production on learning is of great interest to educators and MOOC producers. Guo, Kim and Rubin (2014) found that videos of short duration are engaging to learners. An equal level of engagement was identified for videos types that featured the ‘talking head’ of a presenter or used digital ink/scribbler/analysis to provide a more detailed explanation. Neilson (2014) and Savage (2009) support the approach of videos of short duration. To maintain learner engagement, Neilson (2014) recommended that videos should combine different video types and design elements, such as a presenter face/talking head with a digital ink/scribbler/analysis. Multiple studies have investigated the role of cinematography and cinema production design/methodology on learner engagement. In his research, Wang (2017) identified camera shot style and background design ‘down to the granularity of how the image is captured, recorded and delivered’ (Wang 2017) to be as equally as important as video types and video design elements on learner attention and engagement. In addition, Wang, Chen and Wu (2015) observed the impact of different video types and video design elements on learning. They concluded that the production cost and intensity associated with creating ‘lecture capture and picture-in-picture videos may be worthwhile for online learning from the perspectives of improved learning performance and reduced cognitive load’ (Wang, Chen and Wu 2015). The use of video isn’t reduced only to pre-prepared and pre-recorded content that contributes to the course material. Video can also be create in responsive to learner activity and play a critical role in enabling educators and course instructors to provide feedback to learners throughout the delivery of the course. Henderson and Phillips (2015) reported that the affordances of video enable instructors to convey detailed and elaborate feedback as well as encouragement and praise to learners more so than written commentary. Henderson and Phillips (2015) also reported positive learner response to video-based feedback, where learners felt they had a closer connection with the instructors or educators. Echoing the reports from Henderson and Phillips are learner reviews posted online ‘The final feedback video each week is the jewel in their crown. It sums up the week’s thoughts and mentions some of the issues and talking points brought up in the online comments’, ‘Weekly feedback on YouTube responds to learners questions and comments as they have arisen that week’ and ‘The weekly feedback sessions allowed the participants to feel engaged and gave a more personal feel to an online course’ (Class Central 2018). The use of video-based feedback in this capacity not only addresses any potential knowledge deficit experienced by learners, makes the ‘makes the massive feel intimate’ (Pappano 2018), but also personalised the course in a meaningful and practical way, while actively contributing to the change in learner perceptions of the course as the type where an ‘instructor is not as available because there are tens of thousands of others in the class’ (Pappano 2012).

‘Everybody online. Looking good.’ (Aliens 1986)

When thinking about why learners persist with a course or even choose to repeat the same course again, it’s critical to consider the role of instructors, course mentors or any of the multitudes of names for the course team members who are responsible for facilitating discussions and interacting with learners on the platform. According to Hew (2014), instructor accessibility and passion are some of the features that were identified as key for promoting learner engagement, where engagement is defined as an observable action in the course. While engagement is different from completion and retention (which in MOOCS, are an often misconstrued metric devised by educators and platform providers for defining their view of learner success, satisfaction, needs or goals) an analysis by Adamopoulos (2013) revealed that the role of the instructor did have the largest possible effect on the likelihood of completion. Learner reviews posted online ‘In addition to this there are two outstanding mentors who support the learning and help clarify the more scientific aspects of the course and make lots of useful links and resourses [sic] available to enable the independant [sic] exploration of a complex subject’ (Class Central 2018), ‘The moderators are extremely active in their support for learners’ (Class Central 2018) and ‘The mentors had valuable insights and comments and added a lot’ (Class Central 2018) echo the findings of Adamopoulos (2013) and Pilli & Admiraal (2017) in relation to learner interaction with an instructor, where learner retention and satisfaction is higher when instructors are highly responsive. However, some earlier literature on MOOCS (Kop, 2011; Mackness, 2013; Milligan & Littlejohn, 2014) seemingly bemoan the absence of interaction between instructors and learners, asserting that learners may be prevented from having a quality learning experience due to their limited capacity to undertake self-directed learning. In the past, a diminished learning experience may have been inevitable, considering the vintage of the online environment in which their learner cohort was constrained (the anti-social EdX platform and the hardcore Connectivist Edupunk-ness of the open web). Since the launch of FutureLearn, a platform that’s been ‘inspired by Laurillard’s Conversational Framework’ (Sánchez-Vera, Maria del Mar, Leon Urrutia, Manuel and Davis, Hugh C 2015), a diminished learning experience seems less likely as the platform is predicated on a social learning experience, instructor-learner, learner-learner and learner-content.

‘This course could be your life’ (Groom 2016)

According to Horrigan (2016), people undertake learning for personal and professional reasons. Personal learners often choose learning opportunities that are likely increase their knowledge and skills that benefit themselves and others. Professional learners often choose learning opportunities that are likely to maintain or improve their knowledge and skills. Irrespective of the learner’s inclination for undertaking learning, the opportunity must be flexible and permit the learner drop-in and out at their discretion, often at intervals throughout their life, much like ‘a personal learning continuum, rather than as unrelated, separate gatherings’ (Aras Bozkurt & Jeffrey Keefer 2018). Communities that foster a culture of participatory learning contribute to the premise of lifelong learning, something to be part of, an idea ‘that the teaching and learning experience, the idea of imagining where you stand within in that environment is something that’s akin to the DIY punk experience‘ (Groom 2016). While the course creates an environment for this type of experience, its an environment that is suited for a learner that is self-determined, attentive, can think critically, reason, and is ready to collaborate (Pegrum, 2009). The presence of instructors is once again critical, where they support learners, the development of a community of learning, all the while gently guiding learners through the course. This raises the question as to why learners continue to participate and persist with a course and continue to engage in the community of learning. As MOOCS are voluntary, is it possible that learners simply enjoy being part of a community or their goals to deepen their knowledge and skills are being met, or is it the convenience, ease of use and flexibility afforded by the platform, or possibly even something else entirely that’s related to their individual needs that’s being served? Learners (Class Central, 2018) who participated in either or both of the mindfulness-related offerings by Monash reported ‘The two courses that I have been blessed with the opportunity to do on a number of ocassions [sic] have really enhanced the quality of not just my life but those who share their lives with me in any way. I am simply a better person for the learnings that I have had through undertaking the courses’, ‘I have found the leaders, Craig and Richard, really engaging and great role models for their subject, being calm, measured and reassuring, but also inspirational and encouraging. The strength of the course is their rapport in the short videos and audios which acknowledge human frailty and make the continuing practice of mindfulness seem vital and attainable in daily life.’ and ‘I plan to take the course again when it is offered in November, so I can delve more deeply into this more authentic way of viewing the world and living my life’, which goes some way to providing some insight into their ongoing participation. Furthermore, the learner sentiment expressed towards the mindfulness related offerings is somewhat akin to the model proposed by Peltier, Drago, and Schibrowsky (2003), that identified student-to-student interactions, student-instructor interactions and instructor support and mentoring, as well as course content, course structure and information delivery technology to key components to learner perceived quality of the online learning experience.

Conclusion

This review aimed to assess which pedagogical dimensions, or combinations of, that could possibly contribute to repeated participation by learners in an online course over multiple instances to assist the rise of continued ongoing course participation and guide course design for alternate and expanded online offerings. While findings are inconclusive in regards to the particular group of learners who continue to participate in Monash’s ‘Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance’ and ‘Maintaining a Mindful Life’ courses, video production that carefully considers video type and video design is critical for learning materials that contribute to learner engagement. The role of instructors, course mentors or course team members responsible for interacting with learners was also found to be critical to learner engagement, completion and a quality learning experience. The affordances of a digital online space that’s flexible enough to permit a learner to drop-in and out at their choosing, at intervals throughout their life is a key factor to creating a community that fosters a culture of participatory learning, and one that may encourage learners to continue to be a part of. While anecdotes posted online do celebrate rich and impactful experiences that resonate with the repeat learners, literature that articulates or attempts to articulate an explanatory model for that particularly cohort is scarce. It is proposed that future studies could further examine in detail the repeat learner cohort, which could allow for more specific identification and understanding of the pedagogical dimensions, or combinations of that inform their ongoing commitment to a course, which could then be further analysed and potentially applied to courses with different subject matter contexts.

References

Adamopoulos, P. (2013). What makes a great MOOC? An interdisciplinary analysis of student retention in online courses. In Thirty fourth international conference on information systems, Milan, 2013.
Aliens 1986, film, Brandywine Productions, USA
Aras Bozkurt & Jeffrey Keefer (2018) Participatory learning culture and community formation in connectivist MOOCs, Interactive Learning Environments, 26:6, 776-788.
W. Wang, C. Chen and C. Wu, “Effects of Different Video Lecture Types on Sustained Attention, Emotion, Cognitive Load, and Learning Performance,” 2015 IIAI 4th International Congress on Advanced Applied Informatics, Okayama, 2015, pp. 385-390.
Class Central 2018, Maintaining a Mindful Life, retrieved 20 July 2018, <https://www.class-central.com/course/futurelearn-maintaining-a-mindful-life-9078#reviews>
Class Central 2018, Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance, retrieved 20 July 2018, <https://www.class-central.com/course/futurelearn-mindfulness-for-wellbeing-and-peak-performance-3714#reviews>
Guo, P. J., Kim, J., & Rubin, R. (2014). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of MOOC videos. In Proceedings of the first ACM conference on Learning@ scale (pp. 41-50).
Henderson, M., & Phillips, M. (2015). Video-based feedback on student assessment: scarily personal. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 31(1), 51-66.
Hew, K. F. (2014). Promoting engagement in online courses: what strategies can we learn from three highly rated MOOCS. British Journal of Educational Technology (Online First). http://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12235.
IMDB 2018, The Young Ones – Nasty, retrieved 21 July 2018, <https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0752259/>.
Kop, R. (2011). The challenges to connectivist learning on open online networks: learning experiences during a massive open online course. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3), 19e38.
Mackness, J. (2013). cMOOCs and xMOOCs-key differences. Available from: https://jennymackness.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/cmoocs-and-xmoocs-key-differences/.
Milligan, C., & Littlejohn, A. (2014). Supporting professional learning in a massive open online course. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 15(5), 197e213.
Neilson, B. (2014). Video Production and Learner Engagement in MOOCs, retrieved 22 July 2018, <http://www.yourtrainingedge.com/video-production-and-learner-engagement-in-moocs/>
Pegrum, M. (2009). From blogs to bombs: The future of digital technologies in education. Perth,
Australia: University of Western Australia Publishing.
Peltier, J.W., Drago, W., & Schibrowsky, J. A. (2003). Virtual communities and the assessment of online marketing education. Journal of Marketing Education, 25(3), 260e276.
Pew Research Center 2016, Lifelong Learning and Technology, retrieved 20 July 2018, <http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/03/22/lifelong-learning-and-technology/>
Pilli, O., & Admiraal, W. (2017). Students’ learning outcomes in massive open online courses (MOOCs): Some suggestions for course design. Journal of Higher Education, 7(1), 46–71.
Sánchez-Vera, Maria del Mar, Leon Urrutia, Manuel and Davis, Hugh C. (2015) Challenges in the creation, development and implementation of MOOCs: Web Science course at the University of Southampton. Comunicar, 22 (44), 37-43.
The New York Times 2012, The Year of the MOOC, retrieved 21 July 2018, <https://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/education/edlife/massive-open-online-courses-are-multiplying-at-a-rapid-pace.html>
This Course Could Be Your Life, Keynote – Jim Groom 2016, YouTube, CIRT Lab, 3 March, retrieved 20 July 2018, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xk97NwetXtE>.
Wang, P.-Y. (2017). The impact of camera shot and background design for MOOC videos on student recall and flow experience. Journal of Educational Media and Library Science, 54(3):237-268