Taking on Different Roles: How Educators Position Themselves in MOOCs

  • Rebecca Ferguson
  • Denise Whitelock
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8719)


Educators in massive open online courses (MOOCs) face the challenge of interacting with tens of thousands of students, many of whom are new to online learning. This study investigates the different ways in which lead educators position themselves within MOOCs, and the various roles that they adopt in their messages to learners. Email messages from educators were collected from six courses on FutureLearn, a UK-based MOOC platform that had 26 university partners at the time. Educator stance in these emails was coded thematically, sentence by sentence. The resulting typology draws attention to the different ways in which educators align themselves in these settings, including outlining the trajectory of the course, acting as both host and instructor, sometimes as fellow learner, and often as an emotionally engaged enthusiast. This typology can be used to explore relationships between educator stance and variables such as learner engagement, learner test results and learner retention.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca Ferguson
    • 1
  • Denise Whitelock
    • 1
  1. 1.IETThe Open UniversityWalton HallUK

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