Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

The Ongoing Stories of MOOC

Online education is driving today’s higher education revolution. Though the flurry of attention around MOOCs may lead one to conclude that distance learning is a recent phenomenon, it actually dates back over 120 years. Read : Distance Learning Has Been Around Since 1892, You Big MOOC on Forbes.

MOOCs have been around for a few years as collaborative techie learning events, but this is The year of The MOOC. Elite universities are partnering with Coursera at a furious pace. It now offers courses from 33 of the biggest names in postsecondary education, including Princeton, Brown, Columbia and Duke. In September, Google unleashed a MOOC-building online tool, and Stanford unveiled Class2Go with two courses. The following is to update the latest stories of MOOC.

Hybrid Pedagogy’s MOOC MOOC! (August 12 – 18, 2012)

Hybrid Pedagogy‘s MOOC MOOC ran from August 12 – 18, 2012 w/ over 600 registrants and approximately 3000 unofficial participants. While discussion forums on this site are now closed, course materials are still available. Feel free to explore. Click on the days below, each of which is designed to function as its own self-contained experience. Click the “Dashboard” icon wherever you see it for the various feeds set to track tweets with the #moocmooc tag and MOOC MOOC-related blog posts written during and after the MOOC.

mooc, open source education

Making Sense of MOOCs: Musings in a Maze of Myth, Paradox and Possibility (Sep.25, 2012)

(A thorough review on 25 September 2012)

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are the educational buzzword of 2012. Media frenzy surrounds them and commercial interests have moved in. Sober analysis is overwhelmed by apocalyptic predictions that ignore the history of earlier educational technology fads. The paper describes the short history of MOOCs and sets them in the wider context of the evolution of educational technology and open/distance learning. While the hype about MOOCs presaging a revolution in higher education has focussed on their scale, the real revolution is that universities with scarcity at the heart of their business models are embracing openness. We explore the paradoxes that permeate the MOOCs movement and explode some myths enlisted in its support. The competition inherent in the gadarene rush to offer MOOCs will create a sea change by obliging participating institutions to revisit their missions and focus on teaching quality and students as never before. It could also create a welcome deflationary trend in the costs of higher education.

MOOCs for Credit (October 29, 2012)

Coursera, the largest provider of massive open online courses (MOOCs), has entered into a contract to license several of the courses it has built with its university partners to Antioch University, which would offer versions of the MOOCs for credit as part of a bachelor’s degree program.

The deal represents one of the first instances of a third-party institution buying permission to incorporate a MOOC into its curriculum — and awarding credit for the MOOC — in an effort to lower the full cost of a degree for students. It is also a first step for Coursera and its partners toward developing a revenue stream from licensing its courses.

With 4.5M Users, Instructure Takes On The Courseras & Udacities Of The World With Its Own Open Course Network (October 31st, 2012)

Instructure launched Canvas in 2011 to give educational institutions an alternative to the ubiquitous (but much criticized) software of educational giants like Blackboard. Rather than forcing schools to spend six months integrating and learning how to use inflexible and bloated learning management software, Canvas offers an open source and cloud-native system that is accessible to all students and educators, easy to use (avoids Flash) and mobile, while offering developers a set of APIs and scalable server capacity.

Today, Instructure is adding another piece to its learning management system with the launch of its own MOOC hybrid called the Canvas Network. Essentially, the network allows schools to define the structure of their online courses and customize the learning experience. They can choose to offer courses in a scalable, open format (i.e. MOOC-style) or pursue a smaller, more closed model, in which courses are taught on the online platform schools already have up and running — and are tuition-based.

Canvas Network – Are the LMS and MOOC Markets Colliding? (Nov.9, 2012)

Six weeks ago I posted a new graphic on the LMS market which included MOOCs in the same view as traditional LMS solutions….

The first announcement was that Coursera has evolved their platform definition based on the new agreement with Antioch College. From Steve Kolowich at Inside Higher Ed:

For Coursera, which is still building its MOOC empire with venture capital, the Antioch deal is a first step toward developing a product that it can sell to colleges: “self-contained” online course platforms, complete with built-in content and assessment infrastructure.

“It’s an LMS [learning management system] that’s wrapped around a very high-quality course,” says Koller, the co-founder. “It’s not just the box, it’s a course in a box.”

You Can Now Earn Real College Credit From Online Education Provider Coursera (Nov.13, 2012)

Free courses from 33 top global universities + an online exam from a third party + a small fee = a radically cheap alternative to college education for millions of students.

This morning, Coursera, the “massively open online course” or MOOC platform founded by two Stanford professors, announced that they’d be partnering with ACE, the American Council on Education, to offer a path to college credit for select courses.

ACE, has been independently certifying courses for college credit since 1974, charging nominal fees ($40 for a transcript). They award college credit for Microsoft software certifications, for example. Starting early next year, anyone who successfully completes one of the selected Coursera courses will have the chance to take a proctored exam over the web from ACE, pay a small fee, and earn credit that could be accepted at up to 2,000 universities nationwide.

Top Universities Partner With Online Provider to Create For-Credit Courses (Nov.15, 2012)

A new online education platform featuring courses from some of the country’s top-ranked universities will be available to students for college credit starting in fall 2013. Semester Online is a partnership between a consortium of schools and the online education provider 2U Inc.—formerly known as 2tor—that will deliver university-accredited courses through a virtual classroom environment.

Participating universities include Brandeis UniversityDuke UniversityEmory UniversityNorthwestern University,University of North Carolina—Chapel HillUniversity of Notre DameUniversity of RochesterVanderbilt UniversityWake Forest University, and Washington University in St. Louis. Academically qualified students who are “attending consortium schools as well as other top schools across the country” will be eligible to take courses through the platform, according to today’s press release announcing the partnership.

While this is 2U’s first venture into the undergraduate space, the online provider has partnered with graduate schools since its founding in 2008….

MOOC Provider edX Partners with Community Colleges to Improve Workforce Readiness (Nov.18, 2012)

edX has announced it is partnering with two Massachusetts community colleges to “Take the learning to the learners.” Originally founded with a $60 million grant from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop and implement online learning technologies, edX is expanding into community colleges by offering its massive open online courses – known as MOOCs – to students at Mass Bay and Bunker Hill.

Death of the Degree? Not So Fast

… degrees will undoubtedly evolve.  While many employers today request college transcripts, particularly for entry-level positions, transcripts are used for degree verification, not as indicative of competencies or skills that may or may not match the employer’s needs. This is because transcripts are opaque to employers. This is an inefficiency that Silicon Valley will solve. And it will be solved first through the “double-click degree” – a transcript that an employer can “double click” on to learn a lot more about the course and the student’s performance.

Double-click degrees will unpack course performance into discrete capabilities and competencies.  Instead of knowing that a student received a B+ in Public Speaking 101 from their local community college, employers will be able to double-click on the course and find the student mastered prepared oratory, but is incapable of extemporaneous speech. This improved information has the potential to result in better matches between employers and prospective employees, and fill some of America’s 3.7 million unfilled jobs.

College of Future Could Be Come One, Come All

Christopher L. Eisgruber, Princeton’s provost, said that while his university’s first four MOOCs were going well, he had no plans to offer credentials.

“Our primary goal in doing this is to find ways to improve education on our own campus, to take the passive experience of students scribbling notes while a professor talks, and have some lectures they can watch, to free up classroom time for more interactive activities,” he said. “It’s terrific that we can put information online for people to share, but we don’t want to mislead them into thinking it’s the same as a Princeton course.”

Software Eats Education: With $15 Million In Series B Funding, Andreessen Horowitz Bets On Udacity

Udacity plans on using the new funding to continue to build its technology platform, which will include mobile applications and the introduction of adaptive learning techniques which will change based on students’ capabilities.

Thrun describes Udacity’s classes as being almost like a game. “Students are bombarded with questions and puzzles and quizzes, rather than lectures,” he says. “We shunned the lecture entirely.” In Udacity’s classes, students are actively problem-solving, after a professor introduces the topic briefly. “We believe that learning by doing is more important than learning by listening,” Thrun explains.

University Consortium to Offer Small Online Courses for Credit

Starting next fall, 10 prominent universities, including Duke, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Northwestern, will form a consortium called Semester Online, offering about 30 online courses to both their students — for whom the classes will be covered by their regular tuition — and to students elsewhere who would have to apply and be accepted and pay tuition of more than $4,000 a course.

Semester Online will be operated through the educational platform 2U, formerly known as 2tor, and will simulate many aspects of a classroom: Students will be able to raise their hands virtually, break into smaller discussion groups and arrange and hold online study sessions.

2U One-Ups MOOCs, Coursera, Now Offers Online Undergrad Courses From Top Schools For Credit

In comparison, 2U’s platform offers undergrad courses in a virtual classroom that is instructor-led, has video-based discussion groups and virtual seminars and lectures, while maintaining some sort of emphasis on learning and collaborating in small groups. That’s not to say that this form is “better” than that of MOOCs, but it does feel more like on-campus education and is way, way more personal. My two cents would be that learning is inherently social and that’s something MOOCs don’t really do well yet.

The other important feature for 2U is the fact that it offers selective admissions criteria for each course. This basically means that students have to pay and schools set the admissions criteria — and the same goes for prices/tuition.

CourseTalk Launches A Yelp For Open Online Courses And What This Means For Higher Education

Today, CourseTalk is what you might expect — an early stage Yelp for MOOCs — a place for students to share their experiences with these courses and a way to discover new courses they’d enjoy. Given that it’s still nascent, the platform’s design is simple and its user experience is straightforward: Visitors can use the general search bar which is front and center, or peruse through “Top Rated,” “Popular” and “Upcoming” verticals, or search by category, like Business, Computer Science, etc.

The site has also begun to compile a (growing) list of the universities offering MOOCs and offers a vertical for the Top Reviewers, as well. As to which platforms it supports? Ultimately, Spaulding wants to list all of them, but for now the focus remains on publicly available courses that anyone can take from anywhere — free or paid.

The platform is currently in the process of adding courses from as well as a bevy of classes from Khan Academy. The usual suspects — Coursera, Udacity and edX — are all there. Down the road, the founder also plans to add vertical services, such as Codecademy and Duolingo.

Providers of Free MOOC’s Now Charge Employers for Access to Student Data

On Tuesday, Coursera, which works with high-profile colleges to provide massive open online courses, or MOOC’s, announced its employee-matching service, called Coursera Career Services. Some high-profile tech companies have already signed up—including Facebook and Twitter, according to a post on Coursera’s blog, though officials would not disclose how much employers pay for the service. Each college offering a course through Coursera is also given the chance to opt out of the service—meaning that if a college declines, then no students in its courses can participate in the matchmaking system. Udacity, another company that provides free online courses, offers a similar service. Udacity works directly with professors to offer courses, rather than signing agreements with colleges.

Both Coursera and Udacity show employers more than just student grades. They also highlight students who frequently help others in discussion forums.

Open University launches British Mooc platform to rival US providers

A UK-based platform for massive open online courses (Moocs) to rival established providers in the US has been launched by The Open University. Futurelearn will carry courses from 12 UK institutions (see list), which will be available to students across the world free of charge.

The new platform will operate as an independent company, majority owned by The Open University, although details of other investors have yet to be confirmed.

Coursera Takes A Big Step Toward Monetization, Now Lets Students Earn “Verified Certificates” For A Fee

The startup has quietly been positioning itself to take advantage of its exponential early growth and move towards revenue-generation, beginning in December with the launch of Career Services. Essentially, Coursera’s new service is an opt-in to a recruiting program that allows students to find and connect with positions that “match their skills and interests.”

Students who take a course on its platform will now be able to earn “Verified Certificates” for a small fee. The new option, called Signature Track, is available on a course-by-course basis and is designed to provide verification for the work students complete on its platform, giving value to that work in the form of the startup’s first foray into credentialing. The certificate, however does not include credit toward a degree program, it simply aims to give them a more meaningful way to prove that they’ve completed the course.

Stanford Makes Open Source Platform, Class2Go, Available to All; Launches MOOC on Platform Today

Are you on the hunt for a free, open source platform that will let you deliver free online courses? We’ve already told you about one option:Google Course Builder. Now here’s another: Stanford’s Class2Go. The platform is open, meaning that you can grab the code base for free and run it on your very own server. Class2Go is also portable, giving schools the ability to move documents and media to other platforms if they so choose.

Sebastian Thrun: Udacity Announces For-Credit Course Pilot with San Jose State University

Today Udacity is thrilled to announce a partnership with San Jose State University to pilot three courses — Entry-Level Mathematics, College Algebra, and Elementary Statistics — available online at an affordable tuition rate and for college credit. To my knowledge, this is the first time a MOOC has been offered for credit and purely online.

MOOCs for Credit

Georgia State University announced Tuesday that it will start to review MOOCs for credit much like it reviews courses students have taken at other institutions, or exams they have taken to demonstrate competency in certain areas.

And Academic Partnerships, a company that works with public universities to put their degree programs online, announced an effort in which the first course of these programs can become a MOOC, with full credit awarded to those who successfully complete the course. The educational idea is that this offering will encourage more students to start degree programs. The financial idea is that the tuition revenue gained by participating institutions when students move from the MOOC to the rest of the program (which will continue to charge tuition) will offset the additional costs of offering the first course free.


MOOC2Degree can help you achieve your academic goals, giving you the opportunity to try online learning for free. Academic Partnerships is collaborating with many of its 40 public university partners to launch the MOOC2Degree initiative which provides you with free, open online courses that lead to academic credit as a first step toward your degree.

College Degree, No Class Time Required

Wisconsin officials tout the UW Flexible Option as the first to offer multiple, competency-based bachelor’s degrees from a public university system. Officials encourage students to complete their education independently through online courses, which have grown in popularity through efforts by companies such as Coursera, edX and Udacity.

Elsewhere, some schools offer competency-based credits or associate degrees in areas such as nursing and business, while Northern Arizona University plans a similar program that would offer bachelor’s degrees for a flat fee, said spokesman Eric Dieterle.

Introducing Signature Track (Coursera)

Over the past few months, we’ve been working to expand opportunities for students who complete Coursera courses. From working with ACE on credit equivalency to launching Career Services, we aim to help students apply their learning in meaningful ways.

Today, we’re excited to announce Signature Track, a new option that will give students in select classes the opportunity to earn a Verified Certificate for completing their Coursera course. Signature Track securely links your coursework to your identity, allowing you to confidently show the world what you’ve achieved on Coursera.

Online learning goes official as five Coursera courses get approved by the American Council on Education

Coursera announced a massive milestone today(Feb.7, 2013): the first big step towards credit options. The American Council on Education‘s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT) has made credit recommendations for an initial five Coursera courses.

In other words, students who complete select courses on Coursera’s online platform will be able to potentially apply their credit toward a college degree. The word “potentially” is in there because the company can’t guarantee that each college will approve the credit. That being said, more than 2,000 colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs, according to Coursera.

How EdX Plans to Earn, and Share, Revenue From Its Free Online Courses

According to Mr. Agarwal, edX offers its university affiliates a choice of two partnership models. Both models give universities the opportunity to make money from their edX MOOCs—but only after edX gets paid.

Both edX models offer higher shares to universities than agreements with Coursera do, but only once edX has collected its minimum payment. Coursera offers universities 6 percent to 15 percent of the gross revenue generated by each of their MOOCs on its platform, as well as 20 percent of the profits generated by the “aggregate set of courses provided by the university.”

The business impact of MOOC

Presentation on the possible business impact of MOOCs for the Special Intereset Groep OER of SURF


EdX Releases Open Source Tool For Building Interactive MOOC Courseware

EdX has released source code to the general public that supports interactive learning built specifically for the Internet.

The nonprofit online learning platform founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has released XBlock SDK, the underlying architecture supporting EdX course content.

Futurelearn plans Moocs for mobiles

The first massive open online courses on the UK-based Futurelearn platform will go live in the autumn and are being developed for use on mobile devices, the company’s chief executive has revealed.

“In my experience it’s really, really hard to retrofit mobile on to platforms that haven’t had it thought about at the inception. To develop one of these services and not think about mobile portability, how it works on multiple devices, is just really old-fashioned thinking.”

The company is also looking at ways to offer Futurelearn students the option of paying for invigilated examinations, Mr Nelson said.

MOOCs by the numbers: How do EdX, Coursera and Udacity stack up?

None of the companies is public, so hard numbers can be difficult to come by. But here’s a snapshot of each, including a short summary of each player and where each stands by the numbers in terms of funding and course enrollment, along with key partnerships and big news (good and bad) this year.

Moocs on FutureLearn to be revealed next month

The first courses on the UK’s first massive open online course platform Futurelearn will be unveiled in mid-September, it has been announced. Its 26 partners comprise leading UK and international universities and cultural institutions including the British Library, British Museum and British Council.

The stories of MOOCs will be going on for sure. We will post the continuously evolving stories here. You are welcome to bookmark this page. And has a blog stream updating MOOC news.

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6 Responses »

  1. So, the thing I would really like to see is evidence that there’s anything real in there beyond that thick fog of hype surrounding MOOCs. The few looks I have taken have not shown anything of beauty.


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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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