New Educational Formats for Professional Development: Accommodating the Invisible Learners

  • Christian DalsgaardEmail author
  • Tom Gislev
Part of the Research in Networked Learning book series (RINL)


The motivation of this chapter originates in an interest in the so-called dropouts, non-completing or disengaged participants of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). In this chapter they are called invisible learners. Invisible learners are defined as the non-active and disengaged participants of MOOCs, who do not participate in and complete the course activities and possibly also drop out of the course. The objective of the chapter is to study how to characterise different learner groups in MOOCs and to discuss which educational formats can accommodate invisible learners in professional development. The chapter is based on an empirical study of an open online course designed specifically for different types of learner engagement by allowing different levels of participation. The study is primarily based on 11 interviews and a questionnaire answered by 51 participants. The analysis identifies five different levels of participation, namely, students (enrolled), attendees, members, observers and visitors. The chapter concludes that activities and assignments of students and attendees in a MOOC can provide a key centre for networked learning activities of invisible students that use these activities as part of or as an extension of their own professional practices.


Invisible learners MOOCs Networked learning Open education Professional development 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Teaching Development and Digital MediaAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark

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