Prof Rebecca Ferguson BA (Hons) MA PGCE MSc(RMET) SFHEA
Professor of Learning Futures
I am Professor of Learning Futures at The Open University, focusing on educational futures, learning analytics, MOOCs, innovating pedagogy and online social learning.
I was academic lead on OU's Microcredentials for their first two years. These are short, affordable and globally recognised courses, aimed at students who are already in work. Microcredentials provide an opportunity for individuals who want to progress within their existing career field,. They also provide an opportunity to respond to the rapidly changing need for new skills and qualifications.
Before moving to microcrdentials, I chaired the 60-credit postgraduate module H880: technology-enhanced learning – foundations and futures. This is the first OU module to be presented on the FutureLearn platform and students who complete it successfully can claim a postgraduate certificate in open and distance education (PGCert ODE) or put the 60 credits towards an Open Masters qualification. You can keep up with the H880 community via our Twitter account @OUH880, and you can register for the module here https://www.futurelearn.com/degrees/the-open-university/online-and-distance-education
For three years, I was lead author on the series of reports on Innovating Pedagogy, published each year by IET. The series explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment in order to guide educators and policymakers. The 2022 report was released recently and looked at ten new pedagogies. You can download all the reports from the Innovating Pedagogy website http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/innovating/ together with a series of help sheets designed to support people who are moving to online or distance teaching.
I am currently editor-in-chief of the Journal of Learning Analytics. Prior to that appointment, I was an executive member of the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) for four years and have twice been Program Chair for the international conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge, LAK18 in Sydney, and LAK19 in Arizona.
I have been a pedagogic adviser to the FutureLearn MOOC platform since its foundation, supporting its development of conversational learning. I am also Academic Coordinator of the FutureLearn Academic Network, linking academics from over 170 partner institutions around the world and helping to develop a focused research agenda.
Rebecca is Professor of Learning Futures in the Institute of Educational Technology (IET) and a senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her primary research interests are educational futures and how people learn together online. She was academic lead on The Open University's microcredentials for two years. These are short, affordable and globally recognised courses, aimed at students who are already in work, and providing support for individuals who want to progress within their existing career field,.
Rebecca is an editor-in chief of the Journal of Learning Analytics and a leading member of the international learning analytics community. Her work has been influential in shaping the field, supporting implementation across Europe, and promoting a focus on social learning analytics. She has been invited to lead events in this area on five continents, including several associated with her work as principal investigator on the European Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACE) and on LAEP, a project that helped European policymakers to set out an agenda for high-quality and stimulating ways of learning and teaching through the use of learning analytics. She was principal investigator on the European project: European MOOC Consortium: Labour Market. She was a Program Chair of the Learning Analytics and Knowledge 2018 (LAK18) conference in Sydney, Australia, and LAK19 in Tempe, Arizona.
Rebecca has been a pedagogic adviser to the FutureLearn MOOC platform since its foundation, supporting its development of conversational learning. Her extensive experience of MOOC development and evaluation provides a firm basis for her research on learning at scale. She is Academic Coordinator of the FutureLearn Academic Network (FLAN), linking academics from more than 160 partner institutions around the world and helping to develop a focused research agenda. In particular, she focuses on developing the next generation of researchers in this field, and organises an annual conference event that brings together postgraduate students from universities around the world.
Rebecca worked for three years as lead author on the Innovating Pedagogy reports. This highly cited series of high-profile annual reports explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment in order to guide educators and policy makers around the world.
Rebecca worked for several years as a researcher and educator on the Schome project, focused on educational futures. She was the research lead on the SocialLearn online learning platform, and learning analytics lead on the Open Science Lab (Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year: THE Awards 2014). She is currently one of the lead researchers on the Rumpus project, which investigates the links between fun and learning.
Rebecca is currently supervising two doctoral students.
• Sarah Huxley began her PhD studies in October 2019. She is working with Coaches across Continents and exploring the relationship between fun and learning as part of the Rumpus Group.
• Janice Ansine began her EdD studies in May 2017. She is exploring citizen science learning journeys through iSpotnature.org
Past students include:
• Barbara Conde successfully completed her viva in August 2020. She was part of the cohort of Leverhulme-funded students working on Open World Learning. Her work focuses on self-regulated language learning in massive open online learning.
• Derek Robertson successfully completed his viva in May 2012, focusing on the research question How can digital video and audio be used to support a sociocultural approach to teaching and learning in Higher Education?
• Anna Comas-Quinn successfully completed her viva in January 2020. Her thesis is on MOOC educators – Experiences of online volunteer translation and implications for translation education.
• Tina Papathoma successfully completed her viva in January 2019. Her thesis is on MOOC educators – who they are and how they learn.
• Hannah Gore successfully completed her viva in July 2018. Her thesis is on Engagement of informal learners undertaking open online courses and the impact of design.
• Duygu Bektik successfully completed her viva in December 2016. Her thesis is on Learning analytics for academic writing through automatic identification of meta-discourse.
• Claudia Favero successfully completed her viva in February 2014. Her thesis is on digital historians and on Innovation in digital history teaching and research.
Go the Distance: Working with Others
Go The Distance – a 10-week taste of what distance learning is really like. Distance learners might have to collaborate – work together – with other students on their course. So, how to do this? Rebecca Ferguson is a distance learning lecturer in educational technology and she has the tips to get you working well together!
BBC | 1st December 2017
Introducing learning analytics
Public Service Executive magazine | 23rd February 2017
Learning analytics (Plan Ceibal)
YouTube | 5th July 2016
Learning analytics don’t just measure students’ progress, they can shape it
The Guardian | 26th March 2014
Learning analytics: avoiding failure
Article on avoiding failure when implementing learning analytics. In order not to fail, it is necessary to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve with learning analytics, a vision that closely aligns with institutional priorities.
Educause Review | 31st July 2017
- Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy