Physiology for all: Reflections on the design and delivery of a MOOC to enhance subject knowledge in physiology

Rebecca Randles, Denise Prescott, Terry Gleave, Peter Alston, Blair Grubb

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    Interactive digital technologies have begun to be an increasingly important tool within Higher Education (HE). One example of such technology is that of eLearning, particularly with the growing interest in massive open online courses (MOOCs). Prospective students would have the benefit of utilising MOOCs to explore potential pathways and subject areas, with physiology chosen to be developed into a MOOC to raise the profile with a view to improving recruitment into physiology or physiology-related study pathways. The course was created in 2017 and to date, 17,986 individuals have enrolled onto the course with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. Upon reflection, the MOOC reached some of the target audience; however, the majority appeared to be those who were in employment and were utilising the resource to enhance their learning. Lessons learnt from the development and implementation of the MOOC include the importance of collaboration and partnerships, particularly with the target audience, to ensure the course is fit for purpose. In addition, the planning of the MOOC itself was found to be of great importance; the team discovered the importance of utilising storyboards to develop the scripts and interaction opportunities as well as ensuring the inclusion of demonstrations and animations to help learners visualise key concepts and essential information. While the initial ambition for the Physiology MOOC was targeted at a younger demographic, in preparation for their journey into further or higher education, and potentially a career in the discipline, the data indicates limited impact in this regard. A potential reason for this could be the platforms on which the MOOC was promoted: the target audience may be better reached through promotion in schools and colleges; there may also be a lack of awareness of the platform within this population. Although it is questionable as to whether a MOOC is the most appropriate vehicle for this purpose, the evidence suggests that a large number of learners across the demographic spectrum benefitted greatly from the learning materials and evaluated them highly.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)287-295
    Number of pages9
    JournalAdvances in Online Education
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2023


    • MOOC
    • online learning
    • virtual learning
    • higher education
    • eLearning


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