The thesis… It’s complete!


My final recommendation to the client after evaluating the prototype

Here’s the abstract from my paper titled ONBOARDING XMOOC PROJECT TEAMS:
Designing learning for professional development.

Purpose: The goal was to design and test a best-practice Onboarding approach, informed by literature and an instructor survey, to address challenges in executing MOOC projects,
and to improve the Onboarding experience for MOOC instructors and project teams.

Theory: The author compiled challenges and best practices into the ADDIE framework as
inspiration for selecting critical learning objectives for an Onboarding curriculum,
employing the 70-20-10 model (McCall, Lombardo, Lombardo, & Morrison, 1988).
Iterative design techniques were informed by thoughtful interaction design
(Stolterman & Löwgren, 2004). Evaluation of a beta prototype was conducted using
the framework proposed by (McKenney & Reeves, 2012).

Method: The project team previewed the alpha prototypes of a MetaMOOC learning design. The beta prototype was developed with indicative content and formally evaluated with five experts using qualitative interviews. Coding of the feedback included
categories to inform future iterations.

Results: Evaluations of the beta prototype learning (formative) objectives and content provided showed these to be largely appropriate with suggested improvements. The design (summative) objectives were proven to be unrealistic. The author recommends a more comprehensive curriculum as well as project management toolkit, spanning the entire project lifecycle.

Here is the final document if you wish to read it!

PHEW! Now I can enjoy life just that teensiest bit more… and decide what to learn next. MWAAAAAHHHHAAAAHAAAA…

MetaMOOC Modules v1

Based on the feedback from 16 December 2019 I commenced the design of my assigned modules. In the MURAL storyboard of this version you can see these design elements:

  • I have retained the constructive alignment approach of matching the learning objective with an assessment
  • I added a black circle with a capital A to show where the assessment activity screens are
  • I retained the green indicators for what type of content will be on the page: Discussion, HTML, Video, or Problem. These are the four content types available in edX Studio
  • As in the “greenfield” design, I included a photo of my mind map or the original commitments of thought to paper, which I did before starting with any digital storyboarding.

The next design review is planned for 30 January 2020.

Comments and redirection from 5 December 2019 design review

After the entire BLS team had a chance to absorb the deliverables from the 5 December meeting, we had a small session on 16 December 2019, with two pedagogical project leads to discuss their reactions.

The most significant bit of feedback was that the team had already wedded in their minds to the existing design they had put together in edX Studio. I had been under the impression that this was just a concept and they would be willing to consider a fresh approach. It became clear in this session that I am given leeway to only design two modules and include these into what already exists: Prepare for course production: Process overview and Course Design.

They outlined what the original design intents of the “primer” course were:

  • The learners can be: new MOOC instructors, teaching assistants or new BLS team members, however the MOOC instructor is the priority.
  • The learner should have no idea at all of what a MOOC is previously
  • The level of detail should be sort of like a “studiebesök” (study visit) taster
  • The learner should need no more than two hours to complete it
  • Content should be suitable to use as a reference later
We agreed that many of the ideas in my first design were consistent with what the team had drafted in edX Studio, however my first design would definitely take longer than two hours to complete.
The meeting concluded with a commitment to design the given modules, with a view to designing a second, longer “Onboarding” e-learning and potentially design workshop agenda once this was completed.


First design review 5 December 2019

The team and I that I would present my findings and an initial concept at a meeting 5 December 2019.

Accordingly, I prepared this presentation to guide the discussion. It summarises all of my findings from the survey, edX materials, and the literature review into the ADDIE model for challenges, best practices and benchmarks.

Stubbs, Martin and Endlar (2006) recommend that any learning design team should establish a set of course design principles which are more or less inviolable. This seems like a sensible recommendation for any design project! Therefore I drafted some Design Principles for discussion:

  • Support a 70/20/10 approach for the learner.
  • Employ the constructive alignment design approach consistent with edX’s format. The learning activities will always be designed to drive project deliverables forward, not necessarily to purely demonstrate comprehension.
  • Support the learner at each stage of the project just-in-time, with an appropriate balance of immediately relevant content, followed by an activity.
  • Be informed by literature, the experience of ChalmersX veterans, and edX best practices.
  • Prioritise use of existing materials from EdX, either in original form or repurposed.
  • Include decision “gateways” when the instructor is explicitly asked for commitment to continue to the next stage of the project.

During the meeting, we ran out of time to explicitly agree on these and there still seems to be some disagreement on prioritising use of existing materials from edX, which I need to work out before moving to the prototype phase.

I presented first design concept using the MURAL tool, which was based purely on my readings as a “greenfield design.” We reviewed the concept at the meeting but ran out of time to discuss it in detail. One very important thing I tried to do here is leverage the same constructive alignment learning design as edX promotes. This approach requires a very well-defined learning objective and some type of “exercise” or activity which activates the learner to demonstrate comprehension.

There were some key members of the BLS team who could not attend, so we agreed they would review the materials and we would discuss them at our next meeting. We also agreed we would work together on a weekly basis, when I will sit in the team’s office.

Clarifications and recommendations gathered during this meeting:

  • A major learning objective of the Onboarding phase is for the instructor to experience the culture of designing and producing a MOOC.
  • The “Design problem” is to spread out production effort more smoothly and evenly rather than the customary chaos today, which increases closer to the go-live date.
  • Using the ADDIE taxonomy makes sense for the literature review. The thesis supervisor recommends to contrast the literature with what the survey results say in each section so contrast literature with ChalmersX real life.
  • Make more clearly that the MetaMOOC Onboarding supports the learner up to the end of the Onboarding phase, we would need another course for the rest.
  • They don’t see requiring edX 101 course during the Onboarding phase as any conflict.
  • Instructors actually want MORE templates and firm guidelines about what to do! In the past the BLS team has taken a “respectful” approach but this hasn’t worked very well.
  • They were fine with using MURAL for storyboarding.
  • The thesis supervisor recommends also to include the Stanford exercise library as a resource at some stage.
  • The team recommends as a prework activity to creating the course outline, to have the instructor research existing content offered by others in their field. We can also do this to help the instructor get over the common “writer’s block.”


Stubbs, M., Martin, I. and Endlar, L. (2006). The structuration of blending learning: putting holistic design principles into practice. British Journal of Educational Technology, 37 (2): 163–75.

MetaMOOC: Documenting the Literature Review and Survey Results

After the 3 November 2019 meeting I did the following to expand my understanding of first, the experiences of ChalmersX instructor veterans and second, how well did this correspond to trends I could find in the literature.

The instructor veterans had several suggestions but the most common challenges expressed were:

  • Understanding the expectations of them before commencing the project, including the time commitment
  • Editing a 50-minute lecture into the short video format expected in the xMOOC format
  • Discomfort in front of a camera
  • Designing a suitable course structure and plan when they had never experienced a MOOC as a student themselves
  • Insecurity about creating good exercises, the time and creativity required to do so
  • A desire for firmer guidance and project management, even a “how to get started guide.”

I began my literature review by considering these questions:

1. What are the typical challenges of transition or redesigning classroom instruction to fit a MOOC or e-learning experience?
2. What are some proven best practices of onboarding instructors to MOOC?

Then used GU library Supersearch with the following criteria:

Any field contains challenge AND Any field contains redesign AND Any field contains classroom AND Any field contains MOOC
SCOPE: Default / Everything
Publication Date: 10-YEAR; Publication type: Articles ;Publication type: conference proceedings ;Publication type: newspaper articles ;Language: English

This produced enough results that I selected a few good papers, read these, and selected papers referenced in them. As of January 2020 I need to read a bit more, but so far I have considered approximately 25 publications.

None of the papers used an established theoretical framework to structure the ideas– rather they used more of a project management mindset, often collecting ideas under headings of: motivations for creating a MOOC, preparing, developing, delivering, and evaluating. I chose the ADDIE model as a good framework for collecting ideas. You can see here how I am documenting my literature review and cataloguing ideas for both challenges and best practice suggestions. See the tabs Challenge Framework, Best Practice Framework, and Benchmarks to see how I am organising the ideas and from which sources they came.


MetaMOOC project at ChalmersX: Initial Concept

If you can’t tell from the edX courses I have been documenting in this portfolio, I am exploring the idea of becoming a learning designer. At the same time I’m studying, I’ve been working as a Training Manager at an automotive company, which I was hoping would lead to a good project to study for my Master’s Thesis. Unfortunately there was no suitable learning technology project available so I approached Chalmers Learning Services to inquire whether there was a project I could become involved with. Chalmers University has currently successfully delivered over 20 MOOCs on the edX platform.

We agreed after a couple of discussions (18 Sep 2019, 3 Nov 2019) that I could assist with the design of what the Blended Learning Services (BLS) team is terming a “MetaMOOC” course, which would be delivered on the edX platform. This course is intended to be a primer for new MOOC instructors and project team members, to help them understand how MOOCs work, what is expected of them in such a project, and to give them a “feeling that this is do-able.”

At the 3 November meeting we agreed that the problem statements were:

1. Onboarding educators to an online learning solution and
2. Translating classroom learning to an online environment

I requested that BLS send me the results of a survey the team had sent out earlier in 2019 as well as any method templates the team was generally using. I committed to bring to the next meeting:

  • A summary of initial literature review as well as any conclusions from the survey results
  • A proposed workplan

I received the survey results and a standard edX presentation on how to run a course Design Workshop. I prefer not to upload these documents because they are not licensed for sharing.