ONLINE LEARNING THROUGH EMERGING INNOVATIONS AND PLATFORMS: DIGITAL BADGES AND MOOCS
Innovations in technology are changing not only everyday life for many individuals around the world but are also influencing the expansion of online learning opportunities at an accelerated rate (Collins & Halverson, 2018; Mah, 2016). Online learning platforms allow for scalability, flexibility, greater global access, and innovative and new ways to deliver education (Goodman, Melkers, & Pallais, 2019; Kizilcec et al., 2019). Enrollments in online learning programs and opportunities have seen significant growth in recent years (Seaman, Allen, & Seaman, 2018; U.S. Department of Education, 2018) with continued and steady growth expected into the future. The ubiquity and newness of new online learning formats present a challenge in linking research and practice. Through three separate academic papers, the following dissertation discusses and considers key questions and topics with regards to the use of digital badges and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), two types of emerging online innovations and platforms, and aspects of their efficacy. The three papers respectively 1) identify and discuss the theoretical and empirical foundations digital badges use in specific learners groups by reviewing current literature; 2) highlight the application of a use case in which digital badges have been implemented as a means to offer training; and 3) explore the perceptions of MOOC instructors toward quality learning in their courses in a case study. Conclusions are drawn and solutions as well as potential future directions for research and practice of discussed.