I am Senior Lecturer at the Open University, UK. Based in the Institute of Educational Technology, I have interests in many areas of education and educational technology including distance and online learning, assessment at scale, learner experiences of assessment, digital badges, learning design, and teacher professional development. My research often sits at the confluence of two or more of these aspects and I regularly publish and present at international conferences. In have experience working on over forty funded or strategic projects and presently hold the role of Associate Director within the Institute with responsibility for the Quality Enhancement and Innovation team.
I have a keen interest in new ways of thinking about assessment at scale and at distance. I have led IET's Student Experience of Revision, Assessment and Feedback survey project since 2015 (Cross et al. 2016). Recent analysis of our latest 2020 survey has identified significant difference in the assessment experience between students from different ethnic backgrounds (Cross & Brasher, 2021 - available on request) and highlighted the need for rethinking how dialogic feedback and assessment literacies can be supported in a distance learning context (Cross & Brasher, 2022). The survey comprises over 100 question items and covers additional themes such as learners' assessment networks, learner agency and process transparency.
Internationally, I have led the Digital Badges for Teacher Professional Development in India project working closely with Freda Wolfenden, Lina Adinolfi and colleagues from TISS, India. The focus of this research has been on the potential role that digital badges may have in supporting teachers in improving their classroom practice and giving teachers greater ownership of their professional development (Cross et al. 2022 - available at https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.00014c69). Last year, field trials were conducted with teachers from over 220 schools in the state of Assam (Cross et al., 2022; Charania et al., 2022) and the knowledge exchange events we have organised (Cross et al., 2021; Wolfenden et al, 2020) have helped promote conversations amongst educators. The project was shortlisted for the 2022 OU Research Awards.
Prior to this I led a project piloting the use of 360-degree spherical video recording and VR viewing of classroom practice by teachers in India (Cross, 2018). This work identified four key themes to the emerging narrative around spherical video for TPD: opened observation, critical distance, investigative spaces and spatial presence, and has been published in the journalTeachers and Teacher Education (2022) and the Handbook of Digital Higher Education (2022). I was also a member of the academic team working on the award-winning TESS-India Programme (Cross et al., 2019, Wolfenden et al, 2017) and HEFCE funded Learning Gains project (Rogaten et al, 2019; Cross et al, 2017).
I am also interested in the question of quality in distance education and, as Associate Director, have supported my team's involvement in over 30 strategic projects over the last year spanning four thematic areas. I work work closely with stakeholders across the university including pro-vice chancellor's offices, faculties, and business units. I have had responsibility for quality, research and evaluation in many projects. For example, I presently chair the university's Foundations (strategic change project) Evaluation Advisory Group, represent and the unit on the Quality Enhancement Oversight Group, and am co-ordinating a scoping study investigating student and staff perceptions of Learning Gain. I work with colleagues on pan-university and test-and-learn projects including an investigation led by Maria Aristeidou into student perceptions of quality in online exams (Aristeidou & Cross, 2021; 2022).
And finally, as part of my long-standing interest in learning design and learner engagement with technology (Cross et al, 2019, Cross, 2012; Jones & Cross, 2009), I am presently conducting an institution-wide review of teaching practices that offer optionality, differentiation or similar learning choices within the Open University's undergraduate modules. This builds on an ongoing interest (Cross 2019) in how tools already available in VLEs such as Moodle could be utilised to give learners choice in the difficulty, focus or pedagogic form of pathways they take through sequences of learning activities and resources.
Dr Simon Cross is a Senor Lecturer at The Open University (UK). Based in the Institute of Educational Technology, his current research interests span many areas of education and educational technology including distance and online learning, assessment at scale, learning design, and teacher professional development. He has experience working on over forty funded and or strategic projects. These include several projects trailing digital badges and 360-dgree spherical video technologies for TPD in India, and sustained research into UK distance learners' experience of assessment, exam revision and feedback. Simon is presently an Associate Director at the Institute and disseminates his research widely in publications and international conferences.