The use of MOOCs in transnational higher education for accreditation of prior learning, programme delivery, and professional development

Carrie Amani Annabi, Stephen Wilkins

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)
    157 Downloads (Pure)


    Purpose – The purpose of this research is to investigate how, and the extent to which, MOOCs might be used in the accreditation of students’ prior learning, in degree programme delivery at international branch campuses, and for lecturers’ professional development (PD) in transnational higher education.
    Design/methodology/approach – The data were obtained from two international branch campuses in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The research adopted a qualitative methodology that involved 20 lecturers participating in semi-structured interviews and 10 lecturers participating in a focus group. A rigorous process of content analysis was used to analyse and interpret the data.
    Findings – Lecturers in transnational higher education perceived that MOOCs were not suitable for accredited prior learning (APL) but that they might be useful as a supplementary resource for student learning and for lecturers’ PD. There was a strong belief that as international branch campuses offered a commodified product, MOOCs were unlikely to be adopted as a replacement for traditional programme delivery methods, as students strongly prefer face-to-face teaching and support.
    Practical implications – The research has identified a number of recommendations for higher education institutions operating in transnational settings, which might improve both institutional and individual performance. Institutions that intend to use MOOCs in programme delivery should consider how their students and staff would react to such a move, and how this might impact upon institutional image and reputation.
    Originality/value – Surprisingly, there has been little academic research published on the use of MOOCs in higher education, and to our knowledge, this is the first study conducted in a transnational education setting. The uniqueness of the environment in which international branch campuses operate, as well as their different objectives and student profiles, provide the rationale for this research.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)959-975
    Number of pages17
    JournalInternational Journal of Educational Management
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Massive open online courses (MOOCs)
    • Transnational higher education
    • International branch campuses
    • Accredited prior learning (APL)
    • Professional development (PD)
    • United Arab Emirates (UAE).
    • Commodification of higher education

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education


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