University of Tasmania

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Something for Everyone: MOOC Design for Informing Dementia Education and Research

The introduction of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) as a system for education delivery presents opportunities and challenges. In our context, the driver to develop a MOOC was the promise of addressing the international deficit of quality evidence-based dementia education, as well as the lack of research into international perspectives on dementia. Dementia is a condition of the brain caused by many diseases; the trajectory of most age-related dementias is progressive mental and, ultimately, physical degeneration, leading to death. The work of the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre (Wicking Centre) is committed to the integration of research and education and framed by the concept of ‘quality of life across the trajectory of dementia.’ With dementia emerging as the public health issue of the 21st century, lack of dementia education at multiple levels, professional and non-professional, is increasingly recognised as an emergency. The disruptive character of MOOCs, with associated risks and uncertainties, warranted a research-oriented project management approach, investing resources in gathering and analysing data to underpin each phase of decision-making. This paper describes the Wicking Centre’s method of iterative investigation and analysis of three dynamically interacting components to realise a final MOOC design: 1) the Wicking Centre’s expertise in dementia knowledge and dementia education; 2) the Centre’s desire to take a cohort-centric approach to design and delivery, and 3) models and designs for MOOCs currently promoted, discussed and reported in the higher education discipline. We used a design-based research approach incorporating the concept of life-cycle of an e-learning design (Phillips et al. 2012). The realised structure for the Understanding Dementia MOOC meets multiple objectives through integrating education and research using a hybrid xMOOC and cMOOC approach. The paper reports on the decision-making process for the initial design and the outcomes of the limited release pilot that informed the first full offering of the MOOC. The course design provided expert content to participants and also opportunities for reflecting on the content in discussion, producing a context for collaborative learning that is evidence-based. Participant interactions constitute a rich dataset of international experiences and perspectives that is at the level of individuals, communities and cultures.


Publication title

Proceedings of the European Conference on E-Learning (ECEL) 2013


M Ciussi & M Augier






Tasmanian School of Medicine



Place of publication

Event title

European Conference on E-Learning (ECEL) 2013

Event Venue

Sophia Antipolis, France

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Rights statement

Copyright 2013 the Authors

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Health education and promotion

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