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The Open University

Online qualitative research methods short courses research

The brief 

  • The Open University (OU) were considering developing a suite of online short courses on a range of qualitative research topics and were eager to understand whether these courses would be appealing and how to deliver them most effectively to learners. ​
  • Based on their extensive experience within the HE course market, Shift Insight were commissioned to conduct a 3-stage research project exploring the potential interest in these courses as well as learner preferences around the content, delivery and price.

The approach

  • Shift initially conducted an analysis into 20 competitor online qualitative research methods courses, enabling us to better understand the pricing models, modes of delivery and course topics being adopted across the market.​
  • Informed by the desk research, Shift then conducted 20, 1-hour interviews with a range of prospective learners for these courses, such as academics, PHD and postgrad students. This qualitative stage unearthed preferences around course delivery and the considerations learners make when deciding to enrol on a course.​
  • Based on these findings, Shift then conducted an online survey with prospective learner groups to provide the OU with greater clarity on learner preferences around online courses and focus in on the topics the OU should explore developing as a short course. 

The value

  • The research findings illuminated the size and potential openings within the market for these types of courses, and provided the OU with well-founded recommendations on how to develop and deliver appealing courses for potential learners in this area.