Theses Doctoral

Work-based Learning Through the Multidisciplinary Design of edX MOOCS for Latin America and the Caribbean

Freire, Fabian D.

With the application of work-based learning theory and cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) via qualitative research methods, this study considered the reported learning experiences of a group of multidisciplinary practitioners who employed the edX platform in the delivery of massive open online courses (MOOC) for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). This exploratory case study focused on a pioneering MOOC program, established in 2014 at the Hemispheric Development Fund (fictional organization name) for offering professional development opportunities to the LAC region. Using interviews, observation, and document analysis, it identified the kinds of knowledge, skills, or behaviors, as well as the multidisciplinary collaborations and organizational conditions that participants considered critical for the successful performance of their work activities.
The study included 20 participants, divided evenly among 4 subject matter experts, 4 instructional designers, 4 media producers, 4 platform technicians, and 4 administrative assistants. The study was based on the premise that improving our understanding of the work activities and related learning experiences among participants may benefit the training of future practitioners and organizations interested in the multidisciplinary design of edX MOOCs for LAC and, thus, may contribute to the improved adoption of the edX MOOC platform for developing regions.
Through the iterative modeling and analysis of activity systems, as well as illuminating the significant incidents and systemic tensions reported by participants as potential triggers for their learning, four key findings emerged: 1) The totality of participants described experiences of work-based learning as they engaged in activities of value production during the MOOC design cycle; 2) Developing practical knowledge in the preparation and administration of educational resources or learning activities, and mastering effective communication skills enabled participants to excel in the performance of their work activities; 3) The need for improving organizational processes was cited as the most essential contextual condition impacting participants’ work performance; and 4) A majority of participants expected future learning pressures at work in response to constant changes with the technological tools they employ for doing their jobs.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Yorks, Lyle
Marsick, Victoria J.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
August 27, 2019