Earlier this year, we partnered with Julian Stodd and his team at Sea Salt Learning to deliver a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called Foundations of the Social Age – using Curatr as the course management system – and attracted almost 500 participants from across the globe.

In this guest post, one of the course facilitators, Hannah Moxom (Marketing Manager – Sea Salt Learning), shares insight into how they went about creating the course, and advice for other organisations looking to give MOOCs a try for the first time.

1. Know Why You’re Running Your Course

The aim of the MOOC – Foundations of the Social Age – was to introduce the Social Age to a wider audience, and allow people to understand how aspects of this new age will affect them and their organisations. Our aim was to reach a wider audience, to give people a broad understanding of the Social Age, what it means and how it affects us all.

Our aim was to create a space for people who are dealing with challenges of the Social Age, and in doing so, create a community who share stories, knowledge and help each other work towards solutions by bringing their own experiences into the course. We also wanted to gauge interest on specific aspects of the Social Age, which could act as a steer for future courses and sessions on other topics.  

Foundations of the Social Age

This MOOC was a prototype. It was the first time we built an online, co-created course using Social Age principles such as sharing, collaboration, co-creative storytelling approaches, reward and recognition as a way to generate engagement.

2. Assemble Your Team

We chose to work with HT2 as we knew their offering (Curatr) was in line with the values and principles of Social Learning. We also had the advantage of a good existing relationship with the team.

You should think well in advance about what you will need for your course, or more importantly, the people you will need to help you go live. This includes marketing, content, design, build, technology, artwork and asset creation.

Over the course of ten weeks, we had a team of six working on this MOOC, each contributing their expertise to help design, build, promote and set live the course.

3. Map Out Your Course Before You Start to Build

We had the initial outline of the course from Julian’s existing writing on the topic. We knew we wanted to represent twelve different aspects of the Social Age, and had a lot of pre-existing content in the form of articles and case studies to share.

We wanted to encourage participants to share their own experiences and thoughts on the aspects, so we really tried to minimise formal content and create plenty of space for discussion through provocation questions, contribution activities and incentives for commenting on objects.

The structure came from the 12 aspects of the Social Age – a level for each aspect – and we added a ‘Welcome’ level to set the context and give an overview.

Welcome to the Social Age

In each level, we included a mixture of content – articles, videos, podcasts, case studies and examples, and ensured that each level had at least one contribution activity, plus plenty of provocation questions and challenges, asking participants to share their own stories.

We also used the planning documents available via the Online Help Centre, which were incredibly useful in the design and build of the course.  

4. Make Time To Facilitate

Facilitation is an important element of a successful MOOC. Once the course is live, it is very easy to sit back and move on whilst participants enroll and make their way through the course. But you need be strict and set aside time to facilitate; I would suggest everyday.

The little things, such as welcoming people on to the course, asking where they are from, getting a dialogue going, asking what they hope to achieve, all of this really makes a difference. And it can be the deciding factor as to whether people continue to engage, or even log in at all!

Curatr makes it very easy to keep in touch with your course participants. You can email individuals or the whole group, via the in-platform email [notification] function, and you can also add email templates in advance to save time.

You can also get set up to receive email updates which alert you to the latest comments and activity at times of your choosing, and you can keep an eye on everything via the Activity Feed, which allows you to easily see all activity and reply directly to specific comments.

5. Get Participant Feedback

Feedback from course participants has been excellent; examples being:

“I’ve really enjoyed participating in the Foundations of the Social Age MOOC. It’s been challenging and thought-provoking, also by far and away the best structured online course I’ve taken part in.”

“I look forward to more innovative content from you.  It makes me think a little differently about social learning and every interaction is now viewed with a little more care and attention to detail.  Eye opening perspective.”

“I’ve enjoyed, and actually still making my way through, [this] MOOC. I realise I need to find more ways to participate on the move but it’s thought-provoking and interesting to read so many divergent views.”

This feedback coupled with our overall project experience has given us the confidence to move forward with more MOOCs and to include these as part of our offering around Julian’s books. It has expanded our network and given us the opportunity to reach new audiences.

5 Reasons to Use Curatr for Your Next MOOC

Foundations of the Social Age was my first experience of using Curatr and I found it to be very user-friendly: it has all the tools and functionality you could wish for when creating an online course, with a particular focus on social learning – and our experience of working with HT2 is very positive:

  • Curatr is very user-friendly and has all the tools and functionality you could wish for when creating an online course, with a particular focus on social learning
  • HT2’s evidence-based approach to course design and delivery is reflected in their attention to detail, in the [Curatr] course dashboard and in the various reports you can get on user progress, engagement, completion rates and badges issued
  • The training and support given [by HT2] on design and build is excellent and left me feeling very confident with new skills to build a great course
  • The Online Help Centre is packed full of useful and clear instructions on all aspects of course design and build
  • HT2 also work with you to help with marketing and promotion, giving access to new audiences and driving engagement through social media channels: I felt supported and inspired throughout the whole process, including after the course had gone live and after completion

The team at HT2 will go out of their way to help you with everything, and will always make time for you.  I would definitely recommend any organisation giving MOOCs a try – and highly recommend HT2’s online learning solutions!

Interested in adding MOOCs to your learning blend? Find out more about Curatr.