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."

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What you can do on a MOOC

  • Q:What IS a MOOC ?
    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!
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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)

Finding a Way Forward

The changes brought about by Online Open Education are continuing at an alarming rate. I can hardly keep up with all the announcements of new Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Also, more and more people are taking learning into their own hands. See, for example, the remarkable 'Signals and Systems' course created by Indian student Amol Bhave

The World of Massive Open Online Courses (Moocs)

Infographic .....

Higher Education Liberated - Now We Can All Learn!

When I was a student (long before the Internet age) a certain mathematics lecturer would enter the lecture room and start writing notes from the top of the left blackboard. When he reached the bottom he moved onto the middle board and then the right one. When all the boards were full he wiped out everything with a wet cloth and started again on the left. That was how he lectured! He rarely spoke - his students spent the entire hour just copying the notes. This was clearly not the best way to learn but his students had little choice. His notes were essential for the examination so best to study the notes exclusively and follow up with some question spotting shortly before the examination. It was all a rather tedious game and the students who played it best received the highest grades - but I doubt whether much mathematics was learned! Not all lecture courses were that bad but that type of experience and the factory-like regimentation of learners into specific rooms at specific times colors many people's thinking about learning and Higher Education in general.
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