Learner experiences of a blended course incorporating a MOOC on Haskell functional programming

  • Vicki H.M. Dale Learning Enhancement and Academic Development Service, Student and Academic Services, Southpark House, University of Glasgow
  • Jeremy Singer School of Computing Science, Sir Alwyn Williams Building, University of Glasgow
Keywords: MOOC, learner experience research, blended learning, Haskell programming


There is an increasing move in higher education to blend university courses to include a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). This article reports on the learner experiences of such a course, which incorporated a purposely designed MOOC as part of the blend, to teach Haskell functional programming. A survey revealed that students most valued the programming exercises, quizzes and instructional videos, while the follow-up focus group highlighted the flexibility of the MOOC, usefulness of the videos, drop-in sessions and programming exercises. The overall mix of activities was regarded as particularly useful. While discussions were not rated as highly in the survey, students in the focus group commented on their value, particularly for getting support from external learners. The perceived lack of face-to-face contact was the biggest issue; however, this reflected a lack of awareness of lab sessions which could have been better signposted. There was perceived to be a gap between the MOOC and the rest of the course in terms of level of difficulty and authenticity of learning tasks. These issues were positively addressed in subsequent runs of the course. The outcomes of this study are relevant to educators seeking to incorporate MOOCs into blended courses.


Download data is not yet available.


Adekola, J., Dale, V. H. M. & Gardiner, K. (2017) ‘Development of an institutional framework to guide transitions into enhanced blended learning in higher education’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 25, pp. 1–16. doi: 10.25304/rlt.v25.1973

Adekola, J., et al., (2017) ‘Student transitions to blended learning; an institutional case study’, Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 58–65. doi: 10.14297/jpaap.v5i2.273

Atiq, M. S. Z., et al., (2016) ‘Understanding student experiences in a blended-learning MOOC: a phenomenographic study’. Paper presented at the ASEE’s 123rd Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, LA. doi: 10.18260/p.27102

Bralić, A. & Divjak, B. (2018) ‘Integrating MOOCs in traditionally taught courses: achieving learning outcomes with blended learning’, International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, vol. 15, no. 1, p. 2. doi: 10.1186/s41239-017-0085-7

Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006) ‘Using thematic analysis in psychology’, Qualitative Research in Psychology, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 77–101. doi: 10.1191/1478088706qp063oa

Bruff, D. O., et al., (2013) ‘Wrapping a MOOC: student perceptions of an experiment in blended learning’, Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, vol. 9, no. 2, p. 187.

Caulfield, M., Collier, A. & Halawa, S. (2013) ‘Rethinking online community in MOOCs used for blended learning’, [online] Available at: http://er.educause.edu/articles/2013/10/rethinking-online-community-in-moocs-used-for-blended-learning

Colvin, K. F., et al., (2014) ‘Learning in an introductory physics MOOC: all cohorts learn equally, including an on-campus class’, The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, vol. 15, no. 4. pp. 263–283. doi: 10.19173/irrodl.v15i4.1902

Conijn, R., Van den Beemt, A. & Cuijpers, P. (2018) ‘Predicting student performance in a blended MOOC’, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. doi: 10.1111/jcal.12270

Conole, G. (2013) ‘MOOCs as disruptive technologies: strategies for enhancing the learner experience and quality of MOOCs’, [online] Available at: http://eprints.rclis.org/19388/

Cornelius, S., Calder, C. & Mtika, P. (2019) ‘Understanding learner engagement on a blended course including a MOOC’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 27. doi: 10.25304/rlt.v27.2097

Firmin, R., et al., (2014) ‘Case study: using MOOCs for conventional college coursework’, Distance Education, vol. 35, no. 2, pp. 178–201. doi: 10.1080/01587919.2014.917707

FutureLearn. (2018) ‘Pedagogy and learning design’, [online] Available at: https://partners.futurelearn.com/course-creation/pedagogy-and-learning-design/

Gardiner, K. (2015) ‘Reasons to be open – embracing the digital landscape’, Paper presented at the Association for Learning Technology Conference (ALT-C), University of Manchester, Manchester.

Ghadiri, K., et al., (2013) ‘The transformative potential of blended learning using MIT edX’s 6.002 x online MOOC content combined with student team-based learning in class’, Environment, vol. 8, p. 14.

Gordon, N. (2014) Flexible Pedagogies: Technology Enhanced Learning, [online] Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/flexible-pedagogies-technology-enhanced-learning

Greener, S. L. (2008) ‘Self-aware and self-directed: student conceptions of blended learning’, MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 243–253.

Griffiths, R., et al., (2014) ‘Interactive online learning on campus: testing MOOCs and other platforms in hybrid formats in the University System of Maryland’, [online] Available at: http://www.sr.ithaka.org/wp-content/mig/reports/S-R_Interactive_Online_Learning_Campus_20140710.pdf

Holotescu, C., et al., (2014) ‘Integrating MOOCs in blended courses’, Paper presented at the The International Scientific Conference eLearning and Software for Education.

Israel, M. J. (2015) ‘Effectiveness of integrating MOOCs in traditional classrooms for undergraduate students’, International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, vol. 16, no. 5, pp. 102–118. doi: 10.19173/irrodl.v16i5.2222

Jaffer, T., Govender, S. & Brown, C. (2017) ‘“The best part was the contact!”: understanding postgraduate students’ experiences of wrapped MOOCs’, Open Praxis, vol. 9, no 2, pp. 15. doi: 10.5944/openpraxis.9.2.565

Jones, S. R., Torres, V. & Arminio, J. (2006) ‘Choices and consequences of mixing methods in qualitative research’, in Negotiating the Complexities of Qualitative Research in Higher Education: Fundamental Elements and Issues, Routledge, London, pp. 135–151.

Koller, D. (2012) ‘How online courses can form a basis for on-campus teaching [blog post]’, [online] Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/coursera/2012/11/07/how-online-courses-can-form-a-basis-for-on-campus-teaching/#6bc5ac2f2887

Malik, S. (2008) ‘On campus, but out of class: an investigation into students’ experiences of learning technologies in their self-directed study AU – Deepwell, Frances’, ALT-J, vol. 16, no 1, pp. 5–14. doi: 10.1080/09687760701850166

Meinert, E., et al., (2018) ‘Real-world evidence for postgraduate students and professionals in healthcare: protocol for the design of a blended massive open online course’, BMJ Open, vol. 8, no. 9. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-025196

O’Brien, B. C., et al., (2014) ‘Standards for reporting qualitative research: a synthesis of recommendations’, Academic Medicine, vol. 89, no. 9, pp. 1245–1251. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000388

Phillips, A. W., Reddy, S. & Durning, S. J. (2016) ‘Improving response rates and evaluating nonresponse bias in surveys: AMEE Guide No. 102’, Medical Teacher, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 217–228. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2015.1105945

Poellhuber, B., Roy, N. & Bouchoucha, I. (2019) ‘Understanding participant’s behaviour in massively open online courses’, International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, vol. 20, no. 1. pp. 222–242.

Sandeen, C. (2013) ‘Integrating MOOCs into traditional higher education: the emerging “MOOC 3.0” era’, Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, vol. 45, no. 6, pp. 34–39. doi: 10.1080/00091383.2013.842103

Singer, J. & Archibald, B. (2018) ‘Functional baby talk: analysis of code fragments from novice haskell programmers’, Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science, vol. 270, pp. 37–51. doi: 10.4204/EPTCS.270.3

Singer, J., et al., (2019) ‘From a thousand learners to a thousand markers: Scaling peer feedback with Adaptive Comparative Judgement’, Paper presented at the 12th Annual University of Glasgow Learning and Teaching Conference, Glasgow, [online] Available at: http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/183564/1/183564.pdf

Swinnerton, B. J., et al., (2016) ‘The integration of an anatomy massive open online course (MOOC) into a medical anatomy curriculum’, Anatomical Sciences Education, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 53–67. doi: 10.1002/ase.1625

Tayebinik, M. & Puteh, M. (2012) ‘Sense of community: how important is this quality in blended courses’, Paper presented at the The International Conference on Education and Management Innovation, Singapore, [online] Available from: https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1504/1504.00249.pdf

Thomas, L., Herbert, J. & Teras, M. (2014) ‘A sense of belonging to enhance participation, success and retention in online programs’. The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 69–80. doi: 10.5204/intjfyhe.v5i2.233

Vihavainen, A., Luukkainen, M. & Kurhila, J. (2012) ‘Multi-faceted support for MOOC in programming’, Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 13th Annual Conference on Information Technology Education.
How to Cite
Dale V. H., & Singer J. (2019). Learner experiences of a blended course incorporating a MOOC on Haskell functional programming. Research in Learning Technology, 27. https://doi.org/10.25304/rlt.v27.2248
Original Research Articles