Photo of Rebecca Ferguson

Dr Rebecca Ferguson BA (Hons) MA PGCE MSc(RMET) SFHEA

Senior Lecturer

I am a senior lecturer at The Open University, focusing on educational futures, learning analytics, MOOCs, innovating pedagogy and online social learning.

I chair 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 blog or our Twitter account @OUH880, and you can register for the module here

I am also the 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 2019 report was released in January 2019 and looked at ten new pedagogies, including playful learning, decolonising learning, drone-based learning, learning through wonder and virtual studios. You can download all the reports from the Innovating Pedagogy website

I am an executive member of the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) 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 160 partner institutions around the world and helping to develop a focused research agenda.


Rebecca is a senior lecturer 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.

Rebecca is an executive member of the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) 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 is currently a 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.

Since 2017, Rebecca has been the 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 four doctoral students.

• Barbara Conde began her PhD studies in October 2017 as 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.

• Janice Ansine began her EdD studies in May 2017. She is exploring citizen science learning journeys through

• Anna Comas-Quinn began work on her EdD research in May 2015. She is researching open volunteer sites as sites of formal and informal learning, with reference to the Ted Open Translation Project.

• Derek Robertson began work on his EdD research at The Open University 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?

Past students include:

• 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.




  • Clow, Doug; Ferguson, Rebecca; Kitto, Kirsty; Cho, Yong-Sang; Sharkey, Mike and Aguerrebere, Cecilia. (). Beyond failure: the 2nd LAK Failathon. In: LAK '17 Proceedings of the Seventh International Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference, ACM, New York, USA, 504-505.


  • Clow, Doug; Ferguson, Rebecca; Macfadyen, Leah; Prinsloo, Paul and Slade, Sharon. (). LAK Failathon. In: 6th International Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK) Conference, 25-29 Apr 2016, Edinburgh, Scotland.


  • Ferguson, Rebecca; Cooper, Adam; Drachsler, Hendrik; Kismihók, Gábor; Boyer, Anne; Tammets, Kairit and Martínez Monés, Alejandra. (). Learning analytics: European perspectives. In: 5th International Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference (LAK15), 16-20 Mar 2015, Poughkeepsie, NY, USA.






  • Ferguson, Rebecca and Sheehy, Kieron (). Breaking down the barriers. In: Sheehy, Kieron; Ferguson, Rebecca and Clough, Gill eds. Virtual Worlds: Controversies at the Frontier of Education Hauppauge, N.Y: Nova Science Publishers.





Beyond Prototypes ESRC TEL Programme Report 2013
Project Logo LACE (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) 2014 - 2016
LAEP (The implications and opportunities of learning analytics for European educational policy) 2015 - 2016

Go the Distance: Working with Others

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

Educause Review | 31st July 2017


Invited Talk

6th November 2017

Innovating Pedagogy

European Distance Learning Week Worldwide via Adobe Connect


29th September 2017

Learning analytics: the way ahead

Nordic LASI SLATE, Bergen, Norway

Invited Talk

27th September 2017

Invited Talk

17th July 2017

Learning analytics: planning for the future

Analytics in learning and teaching: the role of big data, personalized learning and the future of the teacher UCLAN, Preston, UK

Invited Talk

25th January 2017

Invited Talk

21st September 2016

Learning analytics: visions of the future

e-Learning Korea 2016 Seoul, Korea

Invited Talk

19th September 2016

Visions of the future: what is on the horizon for learning analytics?

Asian Learning Analytics Summer Institute (LASI Asia) Seoul, Korea


28th June 2016

The future of learning analytics

LASI Bilbao 2016 Bilbao, Spain


2nd May 2016

Invited Talk

24th April 2016

Innovating pedagogy

Institute of Education seminar ORT University, Montevideo, Uruguay

Invited Talk

13th April 2016

Learning analytics: the state of the art and the future

Nuevas métricsas y enfoques para la evaluación e innovación en el aprendizaje Montevideo, Uruguay

External Appointments