Making MOOCs: identifying primary work systems in the creation and delivery of learning at scale
Massive open online courses provide virtually unlimited numbers of learners with access to instructors and course materials from high-status institutions. These courses are technologically intensive in ways that traditional online courses are not, which invites an examination of how the work to create these new forms may or may not work within traditional university structures and hierarchies. Socio-technical systems theory (STS) states that organizations are comprised of interdependent technical and social subsystems. The technical subsystem is concerned with tools, tasks, and processes. The social subsystem is concerned with people and their attitudes, skills, values, and roles. A change in one subsystem will require an adjustment in the other. Hollands and Tirthali found that MOOCs require more time, resources, and personnel to create and deliver then traditional online courses (2014). They identified the major cost drivers as increased numbers of personnel and more intensive use of technology, which is consistent with socio-technical systems theory. If the technical subsystem of online learning has shifted to accommodate more resource-intensive MOOCs, socio-technical theory requires that there be an adjustment in the social subsystem—more personnel are required. This study describes the roles, tasks, tools, and people involved in creating and delivering MOOCs and learning at scale courses.