Welcome to iBerry - The Academic Porthole

Open Education: Learner Support, Higher Education Resources, News Aggregator, Open Courseware (OCW).

More about iBerry.

Who can give the best advice about your learning?

From time to time I get emails from learners asking for help.

"What courses should I take to advance my education?".
Are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) or Open Courseware (OCW) really free?"
"I need a formal qualification in Whatology. What college or university courses are best?"


All iBerry's information is freely available on this website but there are no resources for offering detailed advice to individual learners. Higher Education is now going through a period of significant change and I doubt if anyone can keep track or understand how recent innovations such as MOOCs will impact on what we think of as 'courses'.
Higher Education - AnywherePeace
(Peace by Cayusa, on Flickr)

Who then is the best person to go to for advice? The answer is very simple - YOURSELF ! The future is with the self-learner. You know your own learning objectives better than anyone else and you probably have a shrewd idea of your own capabilities. iBerry's Open Education Directory or even Google will provide more than enough basic information on any subject you care to study. There is plenty OCW available to stimulate your interest and then why not join some MOOCs to experience study in your chosen field? You can take as much or as little interest in a MOOC as you like. From participating in discussion forums, doing all the assignments and earning a certificate to just watching a few videos, your level of participation is entirely up to you. Join as many MOOCs as you like to find out what you like and what is most useful to you. Unlike most traditional courses you will not be out of pocket!

Please enjoy whatever celebrations the end of the year may bring and have a happy and prosperous New Year !

iBerry and Open Education - Work in Progress

iBerry was founded in 1999 when universities and colleges were just beginning to publish courseware and other educational material on the web. Listings of accessible courseware provided by iBerry were useful to students, self-learners and other academics and shortly afterwards MIT popularized open education by introducing Open Courseware (OCW). This consisted mainly of lecture notes and videoed lectures taken from courses given by MIT and other universities for their own students.

Now things are very different. Vast amounts of static OCW are available to online learners whenever or wherever they want to study and open education is becoming much more dynamic. There are open forums for debate and discussion covering most subject areas of Higher Education as well as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) given by top universities and colleges connecting learners to experts and to each other for more effective learning.

Image by opensource.com

What Counts as a MOOC?

While updating iBerry's MOOC Resource Page I had difficulty in deciding whether some online courses really deserve to be called MOOCs. Providers are always happy to jump onto the MOOC bandwagon but some 'MOOCs' now seem to have drifted a little too far from the original concept of a Massive Open Online Course.

For example, 'self-paced MOOCs' are apparently online courses consisting of Open Courseware (OCW) and maybe a discussion forum but with no formal start or end. In contrast with other MOOCs, participants cannot be focused on the same part of the course at the same time and so availability of mutual help and support is less likely. These open online courses may or may not be excellent for self-study but the term 'MOOC' seems inappropriate without a massive body of participants moving through the course together.

Open Education Week - 10th to15th March 2014

Top e-Learning Movers & Shakers and e-Learning Super Heroes in 2013

iBerry is delighted to help sponsor a poll run by Zaid Ali Alsagoff, (e-Learning Manager at the International Medical University (IMU) and author of the popular education site, ZaidLearn). Over 200 e-learning nominees from all parts of the world are now listed and more than 1,000 votes have been cast. The 'Top e-Learning Mover & Shaker of the Year (2013)' will be the nominee with the most votes but the more prestigious 'e-Learning Super Hero of the Year (2013)' will be chosen using a "gamified points system" devised by Zaid that takes into account who is voting as well as the number of votes. It also encourages nominees to show professionalism and appreciation of the other nominees - rather than shameless self-promotion! Voting will end on January 27, 2014 and the results (with prizes) are to be announced at the end of January.

Results - startling revelations!

1,861 people around the world voted giving 6,680 'Votes Up' to their favorite e-Learning Super Heroes (generating 33,000+ views) - the first result: Captain Zaid himself !! - ?? (disqualified from winning the awards!) - more here.

Learning to Learn

iBerry's mission to foster free and accessible Higher Education by every appropriate means is motivated by Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:

"Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education."

. . . . . .

What you can do on a MOOC

  • Q:What IS a MOOC ?
    A:
    A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course.
    Massive - thousands of people could be on it.
    Open - anyone can join in - for free!
    Online - e-learning facilities are available to assist learning
    Course - it's not a 'course' - it's a MOOC!
    . . . . . .

The Open Global Education Network - Revisited

Open Courseware (OCW)

In April 2008 I imagined a futuristic Open Global Education Network (OGEN) that would somehow bring inexpensive Higher Education to anyone, anywhere in the world. At that time there was little to talk about apart from the very beginnings in the shape of OpenCourseware (OCW). This was a significant innovation, notably by MIT making a wide range of videoed lectures, notes, quizzes and so on, freely available on the Internet. OCW though is typically a by-product of traditional courses and does not come with expert tuition, the opportunity to mix and communicate with fellow students or the chance of a recognized qualification.

Way Forward

"Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education." - Article 13: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 16th December 1966

iBerry is a non-profit making website connecting to information and resources for learners, educators, researchers and anyone else with an interest in Higher Education. There are no commercial or institutional affiliations. Plans for future development are summarized below - comments or alternative suggestions are very welcome! The priority will be to help online learners find the best open educational resources (OER) and support for their own purposes - wherever they are on the globe.

Movement towards the type of Open Global Education Network that we envisaged several years ago has been very rapid in recent months with the growth of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and other innovations in Open Education such as Kahn Academy. We will try to keep up with developments.

Higher Education - AnywherePeace
(Peace by Cayusa, on Flickr)
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