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Reader in English Literature, Ben Brabon, the man behind Edge Hill University’s first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) has now been asked to play a key role in shaping the future of online learning nationally.

Ben explains, “Earlier this year I was awarded a Higher Education Academy grant to develop a project entitled ‘e-Gothicist’, which examined the relationship between Gothic literature and e-learning.”

“As part of this project I also developed a web-based resource which allowed students and staff to further develop their creativity and understanding via a range of online settings. This pilot study, which ran alongside my ‘Vampire Fictions’ modules, proved to be a great success and so a dedicated MOOC seemed like the obvious next step,” adds Ben.

The 12-week course is already proving popular with students from across the UK, Europe, Brazil, Australia and the USA. It was as a result of this interest that Ben was asked by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) to speak at an event held at the British Academy in London, with attendees including David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science.

“The event was entitled ‘We need to talk about quality: MOOCs – a question of quality and standards?’ and, as the first academic to validate a MOOC for credit in the UK, I had a unique perspective on the quality issues raised by the validation process,” reveals Ben. “As part of my presentation I spoke about the importance of adhering to the quality code and the subject benchmark statements, as well as the need to involve an external examiner and a learning technologist early on to ensure that the teaching and learning experience isn’t compromised. I also highlighted how essential it is to map MOOCs onto the existing provision within a department or programme to ensure levelness, the quality of learning outcomes and consistency in assessment strategies.”

Since attending the event Ben has now been asked by the QAA to become part of a national working group that will set out a MOOC code of practice to be followed by institutions throughout the UK.

Ben concludes, “I’m very much looking forward to starting work on this as now is the time to start discussing the impact of MOOCs on Higher Education, and how they can become part of a process that will have significant reach and impact across the sector into the future.”

To find out more about studying the Vampire Fictions MOOC, visit: www.edgehill.ac.uk/english/courses/vampire-fictions or https://drbenbrabon.coursesites.com/