Preparing for the digital university

Preparing for the digital university: a review of the history and current state of distance, blended, and online learning.

In the field of educational technology, 2012 was touted as the year of the Massive Open online course (MOOC). while the number of MOOC offerings have since rapidly increased, the research in this space has been lagging. To help facilitate the development of research and examine the potential of MOOCs in education the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supported the massive open online course (MOOC) research initiative (MRI). Athabasca University, long a pioneer in distance education, was selected as the principal investigator for the grant.

The MOOC conversation was largely occurring in the popular media and was focused on the technologies and the large numbers of learners enrolling. The sheer scale of numbers of students led to bold proclamations of education disruption and a sector on the verge of systemic change. However, from the perspective of 2015, these statements appear increasingly erroneous as MOOCs have proven to be simply an additional learning opportunity instead of a direct challenge to higher education itself. many of the issues confronting early MOOC development and offerings could have been reduced if greater consideration was given to research literature in learning sciences and technology-enabled learning. This report is the nal component of the Mri grant. additional work in the Mri grant includes research reports1, conference2, and a special issue of the international review of research in open and Distributed learning3.

The articles presented in this report provide an overview of research literature in:

  • Distance education
  • Blended learning
  • Online learning
  • Credentialing
  • MOOC research
  • Future learning technology infrastructures