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Dr Karen Kear

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Senior Lecturer
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Computing & Communications
  • karen.kear

Professional biography


Karen Kear is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computing and Communications, within the STEM Faculty at The Open University (UK). 

Karen develops and presents courses in IT and Computing, specialising in the social and communication aspects of these subjects.

Karen's research is in e-learning, with a particular focus on online communication. She has researched the use of social technologies such as forums, wikis and web conferencing in educational contexts. She is the author of 'Online and Social Networking Communities: a best practice guide for educators'.


Research interests

Karen's current research is primarily in e-learning. She has researched student use of forums, wikis, web conferencing and other social networking tools.  

Karen's recent research projects include:

  • Changing the Pedagogical Landscape, which looks at European policy to support new learning approaches in Higher Education
  • E-xcellence Next, which considers quality assessment and enhancement in e-learning
  • Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the Co-operative College,UK, to help the College develop e-learning.


Karen's book Online and social networking communities: a best practice guide for educators was published by Routledge in 2010. She was one of three co-editors of Online communication and collaboration: a reader, also published by Routledge in 2010.  

Karen's publications are listed in the Open University's Open Research Online (ORO) repository.

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Technology and Education Research Group (TERG)GroupFaculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology
Technology and Learning Research Group (TLRG)GroupInstitute of Educational Technology


Creating and collaborating: students’ and tutors’ perceptions of an online group project (2018-04)
Donelan, Helen and Kear, Karen
International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 19(2)
A virtual tutor for children with autism (2017)
Herring, Paul; Kear, Karen; Sheehy, Kieron and Jones, Roger
Journal of Enabling Technologies, 11(1) (pp. 19-27)
Social technologies for online learning: theoretical and contextual issues (2016)
Kear, Karen; Jones, Allan; Holden, Georgina and Curcher, Mark
Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 31(1) (pp. 42-53)
The usage of best practices and procedures in the database community (2015-04-30)
Holt, Victoria; Ramage, Magnus; Kear, Karen and Heap, Nicholas
Information Systems, 49 (pp. 163-181)
Using wikis for online group projects: student and tutor perspectives (2014-09)
Kear, Karen; Donelan, Helen and Williams, Judith
International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 15(4) (pp. 70-90)
Social presence in online learning communities: the role of personal profiles (2014-08-07)
Kear, Karen; Chetwynd, Frances and Jefferis, Helen
Research in Learning Technology, 22, Article 19710
Web conferencing for synchronous online tutorials: perspectives of tutors using a new medium (2012-04)
Kear, Karen; Chetwynd, Frances; Williams, Judith and Donelan, Helen
Computers & Education, 58(3) (pp. 953-963)
From forums to wikis: perspectives on tools for collaboration (2010)
Kear, Karen; Woodthorpe, John; Robertson, Sandy and Hutchison, Mike
The Internet and Higher Education, 13(4) (pp. 218-225)
Patterns of online networking for women’s career development (2009)
Donelan, Helen; Herman, Clem; Kear, Karen and Kirkup, Gill
Gender in Management: An International Journal, 24(2) (pp. 92-111)
‘Sorting the wheat from the chaff’: investigating overload in educational discussion systems (2007-06)
Kear, K.L. and Heap, N.W.
Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 23(3) (pp. 235-247)
An overview of ICT-based assessment for engineering education (2004-06)
Heap, Nick W.; Kear, Karen L. and Bissell, Chris C.
European Journal of Engineering Education, 29(2) (pp. 241-250)
Peer learning using asynchronous discussion systems in distance education (2004-06)
Kear, Karen
Open Learning, 19(2) (pp. 151-164)
Using information and communication technology in a modular distance learning course (2004-03)
Kear, Karen; Williams, Judith; Seaton, Richard and Einon, Geoffrey
European Journal of Engineering Education, 29(1) (pp. 17-25)
Following the thread in computer conferences (2001-08)
Kear, Karen
Computers and Education, 37(1) (pp. 81-99)
Quality Assessment for E-learning: a Benchmarking Approach (Third edition) (2016-02-01)
Kear, Karen; Rosewell, Jon; Williams, Keith; Ossiannilsson, Ebba; Rodrigo, Covadonga; Sánchez-Elvira Paniagua, Ángeles; Santamaría Lancho, Miguel; Vyt, André and Mellar, Harvey
ISBN : 978-90-79730-18-6 | Publisher : European Association of Distance Teaching Universities | Published : Maastricht
Quality Assessment for E-learning: a Benchmarking Approach (2nd ed.) (2012-09)
Williams, Keith; Kear, Karen and Rosewell, Jon
ISBN : 978-90-79730-10-0 | Publisher : European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) | Published : Heerlen, The Netherlands
Online and Social Networking Communities: A Best Practice Guide for Educators (2010-11-19)
Kear, Karen
The Open and Flexible Learning Series
ISBN : 9780415872478 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : New York and Abingdon
Quality Frameworks for MOOCs (2017)
Jansen, Darco; Rosewell, Jonathan and Kear, Karen
In: Jemni, Mohamed; Kinshuk, and Khribi, Mohamed Koutheair eds. Open Education: from OERs to MOOCs. Lecture Notes in Educational Technology (pp. 261-281)
ISBN : 978-3-662-52923-2 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Berlin Heidelberg
Social negotiations in web usability engineering (2013)
Martin, Ian; Kear, Karen; Simpkins, Neil and Busvine, John
In: Garcia-Ruiz, Miguel A. ed. Cases on Usability Engineering: Design and Development of Digital Products (pp. 26-56)
Publisher : IGI Global
Collaboration via online discussion forums: issues and approaches (2010)
Kear, Karen
In: Donelan, Helen; Kear, Karen and Ramage, Magnus eds. Online Communication and Collaboration: A Reader (pp. 30-33)
ISBN : 415564786 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Online participation: Shaping the networks of professional women (2009-07)
Donelan, Helen; Herman, Clem; Kear, Karen and Kirkup, Gill
In: Dumova, Tatyana and Fiordo, Richard eds. Handbook of Research on Social Interaction Technologies and Collaboration Software: Concepts and Trends (pp. 270-280)
ISBN : 978-1-60566-368-5 | Publisher : Information Science Reference | Published : UK
Online communication and collaboration: A Reader (2010-01)
Donelan, Helen; Kear, Karen and Ramage, Magnus eds.
ISBN : 978-0-415-56478-6 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon
Exploring the emotions of distance learning students in an assessed, online, collaborative project (2019-06-16)
Hilliard, Jake; Kear, Karen; Donelan, Helen and Heaney, Caroline
In : Connecting through Educational Technology - Proceedings of the European Distance and E-Learning Network 2019 Annual Conference (16-19 Jun 2019, Bruges, Belgium) (pp. 251-259)
An Open Networking Lab for practical open education (2019)
Kear, Karen; Smith, Andrew; Donelan, Helen; Mikroyannidis, Alexander; Jones, Allan; Rosewell, Jonathan; Wermelinger, Michel; Connolly, Teresa; Sanders, Chris; Peasgood, Alice; Williams, Judith; Moss, Nicky and Third, Allan
In : OER19: Recentering Open (10-11 Apr 2019, National University of Ireland, Galway)
The Open Networking Lab: Hands-on Vocational Learning in Computer Networking (2018-10)
Mikroyannidis, Alexander; Kear, Karen; Smith, Andrew; Jones, Allan; Rosewell, Jonathan; Donelan, Helen; Wermelinger, Michel; Sanders, Chris; Third, Allan and Connolly, Teresa
In : IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE) (3-6 Oct 2018, San Jose, California, USA)
Open Networking Lab: online practical learning of computer networking (2018-10)
Rosewell, Jonathan; Kear, Karen; Jones, Allan; Smith, Andrew; Donelan, Helen; Mikroyannidis, Alexander; Peasgood, Alice; Sanders, Chris; Third, Allan; Wermelinger, Michel; Moss, Nicky; Williams, Judith and Connolly, Teresa
In : The Online, Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference: Blended and online Learning: Changing the Educational Landscape (10-12 Oct 2018, Aarhus University, Denmark)
The Open Networking Lab: an open online course for experiential learning of computer networking (2018)
Kear, Karen; Smith, Andrew; Mikroyannidis, Alex; Jones, Allan; Rosewell, Jon; Donelan, Helen; Wermelinger, Michel; Sanders, Chris; Third, Allan and Connolly, Teresa
In : Association for Learning Technology (ALT) annual conference 2018 (11-13 Sep 2018, Manchester)
E-xcellence methodology: lessons learned over ten years of development and implementation (2017)
Rosewell, Jon; Kear, Karen; Williams, Keith; Rodrigo, Covadonga and Sánchez-Elvira, Angeles
In : The Online, Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference: Higher Education for the Future: Accelerating and Strengthening Innovation (25-27 Oct 2017, The Open University, Milton Keynes)
Agile practices taught online at a distance (2016-10)
Barroca, Leonor and Kear, Karen
In : The Online, Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference (19-21 Oct 2016, Rome)
Assessing online collaborative work (2016-09-08)
Kear, Karen and Donelan, Helen
In : ALT-C Annual Conference 2016 (6-8 Sep 2016, University of Warwick, UK)
Evaluating assessment strategies for online group work (2016-06-30)
Donelan, Helen and Kear, Karen
In : Horizons in STEM Higher Education Conference: Making Connections and Sharing Pedagogy (30 Jun - 31 Jul 2016, Leicester, UK)
Online conversations around digital artefacts: the studio approach to learning in STEM subjects (2016-05)
Thomas, Elaine; Barroca, Leonor; Donelan, Helen; Kear, Karen; Jefferis, Helen and Rosewell, Jon
In : Networked Learning Conference 2016 (9-11 May 2016, Lancaster) (pp. 172-180)
Learning and peer feedback in shared online spaces (2014)
Thomas, Elaine; Rosewell, Jon; Kear, Karen and Donelan, Helen
In : Ninth International Conference on Networked Learning 2014 (7-9 Apr 2014, Edinburgh, UK) (pp. 382-385)
Excellence in e-learning: a quality enhancement approach (2014)
Kear, Karen; Williams, Keith and Rosewell, Jonathan
In : EFQUEL Innovation Forum / LINQ Conference 2014: Changing the Trajectory - Quality for Opening up Education (7-9 May 2014, Crete) (pp. 25-32)
Social networking and open educational resources: updating quality assurance for e-learning excellence (2012-09)
Kear, Karen; Rosewell, Jonathan and Williams, Keith
In : EADTU 25th Anniversity Conference: The Role of Open and Flexible Education in European Higher Education Systems for 2020: New Models, New Markets, New Media (27-28 Sep 2012, Paphos, Cyprus)
Next steps for excellence in the quality of e-learning (2012-09)
Rosewell, Jonathan; Kear, Karen and Williams, Keith
In : ALT-C 2012: A Confrontation with Reality (11-13 Sep 2012, Manchester, UK)
Social networking for online learning (2011-10-27)
Kear, Karen and Jones, Allan
In : Alta 2011 (Advanced learning Technologies and Applications, 2011) (27 Oct 2011, Kaunas, Lithuania)
Incorporating quality assurance criteria for OER and Social Networking in the E-xcellence QA methodology (2011-10-05)
Williams, Keith; Kear, Karen; Rosewell, Jonathan and Ferreira, Giselle
In : 24th ICDE World Conference “Expanding Horizons – New Approaches to Open and Distance Learning” (2-5 Oct 2011, Bali, Indonesia)
Social presence in online learning communities (2010-05)
Kear, Karen
In : Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Networked Learning 2010 (3-4 May 2010, Aalborg, Denmark)
Designing a virtual teacher for non-verbal children with autism: Pedagogical affordances and the influence of teacher voice (2010-02-19)
Herring, Paul; Sheehy, Kieron; Jones, Roger and Kear, Karen
In : 4th International Wireless Ready Symposium, Digital Asia: Language\Technology & Community, JALT (19 Feb 2010, Nagoya, Japan)
Using wikis for collaborative learning of technology (2009-07)
Kear, Karen and Woodthorpe, John
In : 7th International Conference on Education and Information Systems, Technologies and Applications: EISTA 2009 (10-13 Jul 2009, Orlando, Florida, USA)
The use of synchronous online tutorials to provide numeracy support for technology students (2009)
Chetwynd, Francis; Donelan, Helen; Heath, Hazel; Kear, Karen and Williams, Judith
In : CETL-MSOR Conference 2009 (7-8 Sep 2009, The Open University, Milton Keynes)
Exploring Web 2.0 to support online learning communities: where technology meets pedagogy (2009)
Ferreira, Giselle; Fisher, Wendy; Kear, Karen and Rosewell, Jonathan
In : Interactive Computer Aided Learning (ICL) International Conference (26-28 Sep 2009, Villach, Austria)
Design of learning spaces in 3D virtual environments (2008-11-20)
Minocha, Shailey; Kear, Karen; Mount, Nick and Priestnall, Gary
In : Researching Learning in Virtual Environments International Conference (RELIVE08) (20-21 Nov 2008, Open University, Milton Keynes)
Communication aspects of virtual learning environments: perspectives of early adopters (2007-06-25)
Kear, Karen
In : ED-MEDIA 2007 (25-29 Jun 2007, Vancouver, Canada)
Women's experiences of online networking for career progression in science, engineering and technology (2007-03)
Donelan, Helen; Herman, Clem; Kear, Karen; Kirkup, Gill and Whitelegg, Liz
In : 3rd Christina Conference on Women's Studies (8-10 Mar 2007, Helsinki, Finland)
E-learning for Networked Living (2006-11-24)
Kear, Karen; Woodthorpe, John and Moss, Nicky
In : EADTU (European Association of Distance Teaching Universities) Annual Conference 2006 (23-24 Nov 2006, Tallin, Estonia)
Networked Living: a new approach to teaching introductory ICT (2006)
Bissell, Christopher and Kear, Karen
In : SEFI 34th Annual Conference: Engineering Education and Active Students (28 Jun - 1 Jul 2006, Uppsala, Sweden)
Overcoming overload in educational discussion systems (2005-04-06)
Kear, Karen and Heap, Nicholas
In : CAL '05 'Virtual Learning?' (4-6 Apr 2005, Bristol, UK)
What do learners want from computer mediated communication systems? (2003)
Kear, Karen
In : CSCL 2003: International Conference on Computer Support for Collaborative Learning (14-18 Jun 2003, Bergen, Norway)
Cyborgs in groups (2002-09-11)
Kear, Karen; Monk, John and Herman, Clem
In : ALT-C 2002: learning technologies for communication (9-11 Sep 2002, Sunderland, UK)
Using asynchronous discussion tools in engineering education (2002)
Kear, Karen
In : e-Technologies in engineering education: learning outcomes providing future possibilities: a United Engineering Foundation Conference (11-16 Aug 2006, Davos, Switzerland)
'Hope this helps': peer learning via CMC [poster presentation] (2001)
Kear, Karen
In : European Perspectives on Computer-supported Collaborative Learning, Proceedings of the first European conference on computer-supported collaborative learning (22-24 Mar 2001, Maastricht, Netherlands)
Investigating design features of a computer-mediated communication system (2007-08)
Kear, Karen Lesley
PhD thesis The Open University
Changing pedagogies: The Open Networking Lab (2019-04)
Rosewell, Jonathan and Kear, Karen
European Association of Distance Teaching Universities, Maastricht.
Excellence in e-learning: the key challenges for universities (2018-04)
Kear, Karen and Rosewell, Jonathan
European Association of Distance Teaching Universities, Maastricht.

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