Learning analytics suggest a positive experience: a descriptive analysis of a care and compassion MOOC (massive open online course)

Julie McLaren, Jayne Donaldson, Stephen Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a relatively new phenomenon not just in healthcare but also in education as a whole (Sarabia-Cobo et al, 2015; Parkinson, 2015). Their main purpose is to capture the attention of a diverse and global audience in order to increase knowledge through the provision of university level education (Sneddon et al, 2018; Hebdon et al, 2016). The Scottish Improvement Science Collaborating Centre, University of Dundee, developed a care and compassion MOOC hosted by FutureLearn, a digital education platform. This five-week MOOC provided learning resources, activities and information to healthcare professionals and the public in order to help raise awareness and understanding of compassion and improve the provision of compassionate care. A Realistic Evaluation approach was taken which provided an opportunity to utilise mixed methods of data collection thus allowing for the complex nature of the educational intervention to be examined (Pawson and Tilley, 1997). Quantitative data from 957 participants were collected through the MOOCs demographic database and included attrition/retention rates, mechanisms of learning and self-reported impact. In keeping with realistic evaluation, the key components of context, mechanism and outcome were considered throughout analysis. Findings from the quantitative research show potentially promising retention rates with only 8% of enrolees choosing to no longer take part in the course. Of the 957 respondents who completed the pre course survey, 441 (46%) undertook the course to help their career, 311 (32%) to help their academic studies, 349 (36%) for personal reasons and 698 (73%) for social networking (multiple responses were allowed). 94 learners completed the post course survey. Amongst these, 91 respondents rated how the MOOC met their overall needs with 93% providing a positive response and 7% either a negative response or unable to answer. Therefore this paper will discuss a MOOC as a pedagogical approach to teaching the essential and complex healthcare related subject of compassion. It will also consider participants’ experiences of learning and the impact this may have on the work practices of healthcare professionals.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 17th European Conference on eLearning
EditorsKlimis Ntalianis, Antonios Andreatos, Cleo Sgouropoulou
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International Limited
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781912764082
ISBN (Print)9781912764075
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event17th European Conference on eLearning - University of West Attica, Athens, Greece
Duration: 1 Nov 20182 Nov 2018

Publication series

NameConference Proceedings
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International Limited
ISSN (Print)2048-8637
ISSN (Electronic)2048-8645


Conference17th European Conference on eLearning
Abbreviated titleECEL 2018
Internet address


  • massive open online course
  • MOOC
  • e-learning
  • pedagogy
  • care
  • compassion


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