Capitalise on diversity


Encourage learners to learn through sharing and building knowledge, even whee their backgrounds and aspirations are diverse.




You want to make your MOOC valuable to all your learners, but their backgrounds and aspirations are diverse. So you encourage the learners to learn through sharing and building knowledge, capitalising on their diversity.


Turn the problem of diversity into a benefit, by using the
diverse experience of MOOC learners to enrich course content.
MOOCs attract a broad range of learners. These learners differ
in their motivation (e.g. to address a specific learning need, or
to gain accreditation), expectations (e.g. that the learner will
gain access to high quality learning materials, or to exchange
ideas with other professionals) as well as prior knowledge and
experience (ranging from those who have strong theoretical
knowledge but no practical experience, to those who have
no formal knowledge but a wealth of experience). Innovative
MOOC designs capitalise on this diversity. Not every learner
needs to learn the same content, nor take the same path
through the learning material. Instead, they can choose the
learning pathway that fits their specific goals.

From a course design perspective, some learner interactions
could be scaffolded, for example by matching learners with
similar intentions. Flexible design could extend to certification,
with achievement being linked to personal goals and progress
where possible. This recommendation provides an opportunity
for learners to develop relational expertise (Tynjälä & Kallio,
2009) as they interact and negotiate with others.
CONSIDER: As course designer, you need to accommodate the
specific needs of individual participants. While some learners
may sign up to meet other learners who are just like them, others
may seek learners with complementary expertise. Designs that
accommodate different models in parallel, and that can support
learners in finding the right community for them, can create
strong communities.


Tynjälä, P., & Kallio, E. (2009). Integrative pedagogy for developing vocational
and professional expertise. Paper presented at the 13th Biennial Conference for
Learning and Instruction, Amsterdam, Netherlands.



A fundamental premise of design is that problems and solutions are rarely universal. The scope of any statement needs to be qualified if it is to be meaningful. Note the material, social and intentional characteristics of the setting in which the problem is embedded. These are the things you can’t change.


The solution is the centrepiece of the pattern. In scientific terms, it is the claim that under certain conditions the described actions will have a particular effect which addresses the problem.

The solution would ideally be articulated at a level of detail which allows immediate implementation, and yet is applicable beyond the specific experiences from which it is derived.



Justify the pattern by reference to data from cases where it appears to have had a positive effect. These would primarily be derived from the design experiment at hand and supplemented by external documented cases.


Data and References

This pattern was originally published in:
Littlejohn, A. and Milligan, C. (2015). Employers are becoming aware of the potential of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as a significant form of learning for work. eLearning Papers 42. Retrived from

Author(s): Steven Warburton
Published at: 13 Aug 2015 10:52 GMT
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