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Pre-induction supports for flexible learners: The Head Start Online MOOC pilot


This practice report discusses the development of the Head Start Online MOOC. This initiative targeted flexible learners, defined as adults engaged in part-time or online distance learning, during the initial stages of the study life-cycle. Drawing on the literature, the experiences of major international Online and Distance Learning (ODL) providers, and a set of overarching design principles, the MOOC (Massive open online course) was developed with a suite of digital readiness tools at its heart. These tools were combined with other supporting materials in order to deliver a comprehensive pre-entry socialisation course. A small pilot of Head Start Online ran over five weeks with 150 people enrolled and 50 going on to receive a certificate of completion. The feedback received, albeit limited by the numbers of respondents, indicates that a course that strategically uses digital readiness tools can have a positive impact on new and prospective flexible learners.

Pages:155 to 161
Section: Practice Reports
0 citation(s) in Scopus
0 citation(s) in Web of Science
How to Cite
Brunton, J., Brown, M., Costello, E., & Farrell, O. (2018). Pre-induction supports for flexible learners: The Head Start Online MOOC pilot. Student Success, 10(1), 155-161.


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Author Biographies

Dublin City University
Ireland Ireland

James Brunton has a BA (Hons) in Applied Psychology from University College Cork and a PhD in Social/Organisational Psychology from Dublin City University. He is the Chair /Director of the DCU Connected BA in Humanities (Psychology Major) Programme in the Open Education Unit, National Institute for Digital Learning. James is a member of the Digital Learning Research Network which includes over 50 staff with a research interest, and a range of scholarly outputs, in this area. His research interests include the psychology of identity formation, socialisation/induction processes for ‘off-campus’ higher education students, and digital learning resources/assessment design. His research has been published in journals such as Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning and Education Media International.

Dublin City University
Ireland Ireland

Professor Mark Brown is Ireland's first Chair in Digital Learning and Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL). Mark coordinates the Digital Learning Research Network which includes over 50 DCU staff with a research interest in the area and who produce a broad range of scholarly outputs related to blended, Online and Digital (BOLD) education. More detailed biographical information, including a summary of Mark's research outputs by year, is available from his personal NIDL webpage.

Dublin City University
Ireland Ireland

Dr Eamon Costello holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature (I) and History (II.I) from Trinity College Dublin, a higher Diploma (Distinction) in Computer Science from University College Dublin, an MSc (I) in Software and Information Systems from National University of Ireland Galway and a Doctorate from Trinity College Dublin. His Doctoral study analysed the implications of massively distributed collaborative development processes for education and educational technology and focused on the community of the Open Source VLE Moodle. 

Dublin City University
Ireland Ireland

Dr Orna Farrell is Programme Chair for the BA Humanities, BA English & History, BA Single Module B.A. Humanities, Open Education in Dublin City University. Working within DCU’s National Institute for Digital Learning her research interests include higher education transitions, educational technology, digital historical skills and eportfolio based learning.

Orna has recently completed a PhD in Trinity College in the School of Education. Her Phd title was  Developing critical thinking through eportfolio based learning: an exploration of the experiences of non-traditional online distance learners.