New publication: University of York research study on the impact of MOOCs

Prof. Andrew Parsons (Department of Chemistry) and Iain Barr (Centre for Lifelong Learning) from the University of York have conducted a study of a chemistry MOOC (massive open online course), which was delivered on two occasions through the FutureLearn platform.

A YouTube preview of the MOOC is available here:

They have presented their findings in a paper published in the latest volume of the Waikato Journal of Education (Vol. 23, No. 2; 2018) (, as part of a special collection of papers on digital learning.

Andy and Iain summarise their key findings in the text below.

MOOCs as ‘chemical attractants’

As a pioneer University of York MOOC (massive open online course), we designed ‘Exploring Everyday Chemistry’ to contribute to the university strategy for internationalisation, widening participation, public engagement and undergraduate admissions.

Our recently published paper in the Waikato Journal of Education (Vol. 23, No. 2 2018) adds to the growing literature on an educator’s experience, providing an insight into the rewards and challenges of teaching in MOOCs. From developing the MOOC, to designing the resources and activities, pacing the workload, catering for a wide range of learners using high interest topics, promotion of learner engagement and quality assurance.

In terms of impact, the fact that almost 1 in 6 of our UCAS applications specifically mentioned the Exploring Everyday Chemistry course indicates the importance of such courses in strengthening university applications – helping candidates to stand out from the crowd. We hope this paper will inspire other colleagues at York to consider developing related online courses.

Want to learn more?

For further information on the University of York’s current MOOC portfolio, please see:

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