12 January 2011

What a MOOC is like

A MOOC is a Massive (in various degrees of massiveness), Open and Online Course.  One MOOC has started this week on Learning Analytics & Knowledge (LAK11).  Another one, on Connectivism & Connective Knowledge (CCK11) is starting next week.  MOOCs are offered in various domains from education to ICT to biology.  MOOCs are definitely on the rise.  

MOOCs, what are they and where do they come from?

In 2008, Stephen Downes was teaching a class on learning theory at the University of Manitoba. Rather than limit access to his lectures to the 25 students registered for his course, he allowed the general public to attend virtually. The result was that more than 2300 people participated in his course.

First, they are massive.  They tend to attract hundreds or, for some courses, even more than thousand of participants, although some may participate only passively or drop out before the end of the course.

Second, they are open.  This means that they are free, that there are no entry requirements, that there is no formal trajectory that needs to be followed and that all activity is voluntary.  Besides, there is also no accreditation, apart from the appreciation from fellow learners. Taking a course for credits is sometimes offered optionally for a fee. The courses are very participatory, without fixed assignments, but with an invitation to engage in discussions and build networks.  

Finally, they are online.  All activity takes place online, usually through a combination of synchronous (online lectures, discussions etc. using software platforms through Elluminate) and asynchronous activity (blog posts, forums, e-mail newsletters, twitter messages, status updates).   Software programmes like Moodle and tools like Netvibes allow keeping track of all the activity going on.  

Below a short video from Dave Courmier on the essence of a MOOC.

Are they successful?  I'm trying it out, and keeping you posted.
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