PhD in Educational Technology · Editorial

Dr Francisco Iniesto reflects on his time studying at IET

The Jennie Lee Building

Dr Francisco Iniesto completed his PhD in Educational Technology in 2020, specifying his research in accessibility and MOOCs.

Francisco, or Paco to his friends, began his journey at the OU in 2015, studying his PhD at IET as a part of the Open World Learning (OWL) programme, a fully-funded Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarship.

While studying at IET, Francisco led his PhD research project titled ‘An Investigation into the accessibility of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)’, a study that explored the relationship between Accessibility and MOOCs, and the role of an adaptive model for developing services for people with special needs.

During his studentship, Francisco identified various tools and approaches in relation to how MOOCs could be made more accessible, raising the awareness of stakeholders in the OU to the accessibility challenges in the online course environment. One of the results of his research was the design and validation of a four-component audit for improving the accessibility of MOOCs for disabled learners; from an expert evaluation perspective.

Discussing what his research study involved, and the key achievements during his Student Journey at IET, Francisco shared:

“My doctorate research explored the accessibility of MOOCs, in a multidisciplinary investigation, in which I had the opportunity to interview professionals, learners with accessibility needs and carry out a technical audit. This research has allowed progress in the area of accessibility in open distance education."

“As a computer scientist and now educational technologist, I realised how much work needs to be done to provide an inclusive distance education, I was concerned about the accessibility of a massive and open educational environment such as MOOCs were offering at that time.”

"I have met many professionals to do research with, within IET, at the OU and internationally. IET has allowed me to learn about methodologies at the forefront of accessibility research and open distance education."

Image of Dr Francisco Iniesto
Image of Dr Francisco Iniesto, Research Associate in Technology Enhanced Learning at IET.

While completing his PhD Francisco enjoyed working in a number of roles at the OU, varied across projects, research activities and teaching roles. These included a one-year Post-Doctoral Research role for OpenTEL, the OU’s Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Priority Research initiative. In the role, Francisco conducted a TEL-focused programme of research, involving researchers from across the OU.

During 2020 and 2021, Francisco has enjoyed applying his expertise in widening participation, accessibility, and open education by contributing as a researcher to the Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN), an open, global network of PhD candidates whose research includes a focus on open education, and ADMINS, a project which created a chatbot to support OU students disclose their disabilities.

On the question of why Francisco decided to study at the Institute of Educational Technology, he said:

"I come from a distance education environment in which I did my master at UNED (the National Distance University of Spain), having the possibility of studying at IET was a magnificent opportunity to study and research internationally with the best researchers in the field."

In closing, on whether Francisco would recommend others to do a PhD at IET, he shared:

"Of course, it is an opportunity to meet other researchers in similar areas and have the support of a department and university with a lot of experience in research and teaching."

Keep up to date with Dr Francisco Iniesto's career development at the OU with his IET People Profile.