Head Start Online: A Mooc for Those Thinking About, or Preparing for, Flexible Study

James Brunton
Dublin City University, Ireland

Mark Brown
Dublin City University, Ireland

Eamon Costello
Dublin City University, Ireland

Orna Farrell
Dublin City University, Ireland


Head Start Online is a five week, free, online course (MOOC) that is designed to support prospective and/or new flexible learners’ transitions into higher education. Enhancing retention and completion rates of this group of learners, in order to facilitate successful widening of access, is a significant global challenge. Head Start Online is focused on the initial stages of the study-lifecycle, as the foundations for student success are laid early. Head Start Online has emerged out of the Student Success Toolbox project, a nationally funded research and technology development project that developed a toolbox of eight digital readiness/preparation tools that were shared with the sector as OERs, along with a guide for their customisation and use. Head Start Online brings together a number of these tools together in a cohesive pre-induction socialization course that aids new/prospective learners in, for example: calculating how much time they have available in their lives to study, relative to how much time they spend in the other existing parts of their lives; examining what supports they have in their lives, and how those supports may help them overcome common problems experienced by flexible learners; learning about the computer skills needed in higher education; and also about the study skills required to study successfully in higher education. A pilot of the MOOC went live on the week beginning Monday 15th August 2016 and enrolled its first cohort of prospective learners who are currently progressing through the course.

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