New paper: Comparing safety culture and learning culture

Our paper (with Allison Littlejohn and Dane Lukic ) ‘Comparing safety culture and learning culture‘ has been accepted for publication in Risk Management journal (Risk Management (2015) doi:10.1057/rm.2015.2).

Extended abstract: This article examines the alignment of learning and safety culture in organisations. It tests the hypothesis that factors that indicate a good learning culture might also signify good safety and vice versa. The hypothesis was tested through an extensive literature review. Areas of alignment of learning culture and safety culture were identified. Six components of learning culture and safety culture can be measured by the same instrument. These components form guiding principles for measurement of safety culture and learning culture: open communication; employee empowerment; collaboration; alignment of espoused and enacted priorities; internal systemic alignment; management.  Another eight component areas were identified where learning culture and safety culture partially align: motivation; recognition and rewards; competence; commitment; workplace condition; risk; opportunities for learning; and policy and procedures. Four further components were found to be relevant to either safety culture or learning culture and do not align: social regulation; safety versus productivity; equipment; and innovation.  Overall, there is a relationship between learning culture and safety culture, but gauging one does not provide a reliable measure of the other.

Presenting at Learning and Professional Development SIG conference in Oslo

I’m looking forward to the EARLI’s Learning and Professional Development Special Interest Group Conference in Oslo next week.  I’m contributing to two session as follows:

  • As a discussant at symposium “A social network perspective on learning and professional development” on Wed 27/08/14 at 16:30-18:00
  • As a co-author at paper session 3C ‘Motivation and self-regulation at work’, paper titled “Self-regulated learning in the financial services industry” (Milligan, Fontana, Littlejohn, Margaryan) on Thur 28/08/14 at 09:00-11:00

Let me know if you are around and would like to meet up.

Instructional Quality of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

I was pleased to hear that our paper on the quality of instructional design of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has been accepted for publication in Computers and Education.  

Abstract:  We present an analysis of instructional design quality of 76 randomly selected Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The quality of MOOCs was determined from first principles of instruction, using a course survey instrument. Two types of MOOCs – xMOOCs and cMOOCs – were analysed and their instructional design quality was assessed and compared. We found that the majority of MOOCs scored poorly on most instructional design principles. However, most MOOCs scored highly on organisation and presentation of course material. The results indicate that although most MOOCs are well-packaged, their instructional design quality is low. We outline implications for practice and ideas for future research.

The full paper will be available online shortly; in the meantime, a draft is available for download.

It took 18 months to get to this stage from the conception of the study:

  • conception of the project idea and securing internal funding for a research assistant – Feb 2013;
  • search and recruitment of a research assistant – Feb-Jul 2013 (6 months);
  • data collection – Sep-Dec 2013 (4 months);
  • data analysis – Jan 2014;
  • publication – Feb-Aug 2014 (7 months), including: (i)submission of the first draft of the article – Feb 2014; (ii) review received – Apr 2014; (iii) resubmission of 2nd draft – May 2014; (iv)second review received – Jul 2014; (v) resubmission and acceptance of the final draft – Aug 2014.  

So the actual conception and execution of the study took just 6/18 months…

Citation: Margaryan, A., Bianco, M., & Littlejohn, A. (in press). Instructional quality of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Computers and Education.

On principles

Why do we need principles?

“…abstract ideas are conceptual integrations which subsume and incalculable number of concretes – and without abstract ideas you would not be able to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems. You would be in the position of a newborn infant, to whom every object is a unique, unprecedented phenomenon. The difference between his mental state and yours lies in the number of conceptual integrations your mind has performed.  You have no choice about the necessity to integrate your observations, your experiences, your knowledge into abstract principles.”  (Rand, 1982, p.6)

Source: Rand, A. (1982). Philosophy: Who needs it. New York: Bobbs-Merrill.

Narrating Your Work: An approach to supporting knowledge sharing in virtual teams

A new paper ‘Narrating Your Work: an approach to supporting knowledge sharing in virtual teams’ I co-authored with Hans de Zwart, Eleni Boursinou, and Dane Lukic has been published in Knowledge Management Research and Practice journal. 

The paper is behind paywall; if you want a copy do let me know.


My Online Educa Berlin 2013 schedule

It’s that time of the year again and I am at Online Educa conference in Berlin.

There is an extensive programme of plenary and parallel sessions over the next couple of days. I’m  planning to attend the following sessions:


09:15-11:00 Opening plenary in which the talk by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger on big data is the one I’m looking forward to most.

12:00-13:30 BUS04 Learning Moves in the Corporate Sector parallel session, with representatives from Challenge Stretching Talent The Netherlands; UK Medical Research Council; DNV GL Oil and Gas Norway, and Swiss Post, Switzerland

14:30-16:00 My own talk on ‘narrating work’ experiment in BUS20 Doing Things Differently parallel session

16:30-17:30 BUS36 The Battle of Benchmarks, with presentations from ASTD and others.

17:45-19:00 The OEB Debate

20:00+ OEB Dinner and Dance


09:30-11:00 Plenary on Lifelong Learning

11:45-13:00 BUS50: A Global Dialogue on a New Way of Working,Learning and Innovating

14:15-16:00 BUS65: Transforming Learning, with case studies from Toyota Europe and IBM Germany

I’m very much looking forward to a stimulating conference and to meeting old and new colleagues.

Research Assistantship in self-regulated learning in the workplace

I am looking for a Research Assistant (postdoc) to work with me on a series of studies on self-regulated learning in the workplace.   The position is based in the Caledonian Academy in Glasgow. It is a full-time, fixed term post for 12 months (in the first instance). Below are the details of the post and information about how to apply.

Salary Grade/Scale: Grade 5, £25,504 – £29,541 (Points 24-29)
Closing Date: 31 January 2014

The Caledonian Academy, a research centre for technology-enhanced professional learning at Glasgow Caledonian University, UK, is seeking a researcher to collaborate on a series of studies of how professionals self-regulate their learning in the contemporary networked workplace in knowledge-intensive domains. Responsibilities will primarily involve conducting a meta-review of literature; collecting qualitative data in multinational companies and analysing these data; devising research grant proposals; and setting up and running a reading group on self-regulation of learning at work. The post-holder will work closely with the Principal Investigator Dr Anoush Margaryan.

The successful candidate should have a PhD (or equivalent) in Learning Sciences, with specialisation in self-regulated learning in the workplace.  Candidates with a background in Industrial or Educational Psychology, Organisational Learning or other human learning disciplines will be considered provided they can demonstrate a solid understanding of theories of adult learning in the workplace and strong interest in self-regulated learning theories.  A track record of peer-reviewed articles in impact-rated academic journals is essential. Applicants should have formal training in qualitative research methods and demonstrate excellent interviewing skills, including the skills necessary to recruit potential interviewees. Preference will be given to candidates who have training in and/or experience of ethnographic research methods. Ability to read, analytically synthesise and summarise large amount of literature quickly and competently is essential. The successful candidate should have excellent written and spoken English language skills; exceptional project management skills; be well-organised, self-regulated and able to work independently. The successful candidate will demonstrate ability to persuasively present their research to businesspeople and policy-makers as well as other researchers.  Candidates whose background is in topics other than self-regulated learning at work should be willing to align their research focus with our research programme.

This post is an exciting opportunity to participate in innovative, interdisciplinary research that seeks to break new ground both theoretically and methodologically. Although the post is initially for 12 months, there is possibility of extension through acquisition of external research grants.  We are a small, dynamic and prolific group.  We are non-hierarchical, approachable, and collegiate. Flexible hours and mobile working can be negotiated, on the basis that agreed project outputs are delivered on time and to high standard.

We have ongoing research and consultancy collaborations with a range of global multinational companies in the energy and finance sectors.  Our research has been supported by grants from funders including the European Commission, the Gates Foundation, UK Economic and Social Sciences Research Council (ESRC), UK Join Information Systems Committee (JISC), and the industry. This post will provide an opportunity to participate in writing research grant applications and networking with these and other funders.

The successful applicant will benefit from mentoring by the Principal Investigator. The Caledonian Academy runs regular research seminars and knowledge exchange sessions, which the successful candidate will be encouraged to participate in. There is also a wide range of professional development courses and workshops offered by the university. You will work in a modern research space, sharing an office with one or two other researchers.

Interviews for this post will be held in February or early March 2014. The position is expected to start shortly thereafter (date negotiable).

To apply for this position, please submit the following materials by 17:00 (UK time) on 31 January 2014 to

  • GCU application form, which can be downloaded from
  • Your CV, including publications list
  • Cover letter explaining why you are interested in this Assistantship and outlining your relevant qualifications and prior experiences. The essential and desirable criteria for this post are available from  In your cover letter, outline concrete evidence of how you fit each of the essential criteria, and the desirable criteria if applicable.  Applications that do not provide evidence for the essential criteria will not be considered.  Statements such as ‘see my CV’ will not be accepted as evidence.
  • One recent paper, which best represents your research, where you are the sole or the lead author, and which is published in a peer-reviewed international journal.
  • Names and contact email for two referees. One of these should be your doctoral supervisor