'Understanding Research Methods' MOOC shortlisted for Guardian HE award

The MOOC draws on a wealth of course material developed to support research training across SOAS, University of London
MOOC participants at Dominican University of California
‘Understanding Research Methods’ MOOC participants at Dominican University of California
The awards act as a sector benchmark and offer universities a seal of approval for their most outstanding work

A submission based on the International Programmes/SOAS MOOC, ‘Understanding Research Methods’, has been shortlisted for the Guardian Higher Education Awards 2015 in the 'Online and distance learning' category.

As described on The Guardian website, the awards "showcase best practice, achievement and innovation across a range of categories. Honouring excellence in everything from teaching practice to inspiring facilities, the awards act as a sector benchmark and offer universities a seal of approval for their most outstanding work. The awards recognise the value of specific projects and reward institutions that have delivered projects which exceed the expectations of their students and staff."

Aimed at demystifying research and research methods, the University of London instructors for the MOOC were Dr J Simon Rofe, a Senior Lecturer in Diplomacy and International Studies at SOAS, and Dr Yenn Lee, a Research Skills Trainer/Coordinator in the Academic Development Directorate at SOAS.

'Understanding Research Methods' was also the first MOOC to be offered ‘on campus’ by Dominican University of California when it became Coursera’s first US-based Learning Hub in 2014.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony held at the Royal Institute of British Architects in central London on 18 March.

Update (19 March 2015)
Guardian University Awards 2015 runner-up logoThe 'Understanding Research Methods' MOOC was one of two runners up in the 'Online and distance leaning' category of The Guardian University Awards 2015, announced last night.

Writing in The Guardian, Kim Thomas had the following to say about the MOOC: "The course is innovative in two main ways: first, it is built around a learning community where all participants – instructors and students alike – share their research experiences and collectively develop their understanding and skills. Second, it uses a series of “In conversation with …” videos (rather than the standard talking head approach) that feature a full range of research experiences and reflections from students and academics.

The approach emulates the real-world research experience, where a piece of work is communicated, challenged and improved through consultation with professional colleagues. It also gives students the opportunity to interact with peers from different cultural and professional backgrounds around the world."

Dr Mary Stiasny, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) and Chief Executive of the University of London International Programmes, said: "I am absolutely delighted that the 'Understanding Research Methods' MOOC, developed by the University of London in partnership with SOAS, was runner-up in the 'Online and distance learning' category. This was a real recognition of the excellence of the provision, and reflects the enthusiasm of the students who signed up to follow it."

MOOC teamPictured at the awards (from left to right): Julia Leong Son (Academic Project Manager), Dr Yenn Lee (Course Instructor) and Dr J Simon Rofe (Course Instructor).