MOOCs in the News

It’s been a pretty crazy month for MOOCs.

First, a Coursera course that started at the end of January entitled Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application had to shut down down early due to poor planning and design (***insert irony here). Basically, what happened is that the course was going to use Google Docs for group assignments. The PROBLEM was that Google docs only allows for 50 simultaneous editors BUT the class had over 40,000 students. This class basically shut down and crashed the Google spreadsheet being used. The instructor sent an email out canceling the class, becoming the first Coursera course to shut down mid course.

To read more about this incident, please click here. Remember, design and planning are VERY important when technology is going to  be used.

Then, the American Council on Education announced that five of Coursera’s have earned credit recommendations from ACE. The five courses: “Pre-Calculus” and “Algebra” from the University of California at Irvine; “Introduction to Genetics and Evolution” from Duke University; “Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach” from Duke University; and “Calculus: Single Variable” from the University of Pennsylvania, have been recommended as “credit quality” courses.

Continuing on, on February 16th a MOOC instructor for the class “Microeconomics for Managers,” a MOOC offered by the University of California at Irvine through Coursera, sent a note to his students announcing that he would no longer be teaching the course, which was about to enter its fifth week. The reason stated as a “disagreement over how to best conduct this course.” This becomes the first time a MOOC instructor quits a course “mid semester.”

Finally, an announcement from yesterday (February 21st). MOOC providers EdX and Coursera are doubling their offerings.

Coursera will be adding 29 new University partners (to it’s existing 33 partners), including 16 international institutions. This will allow them to expand their 2.8 million registered users (United States as the #1 country in terms of users) to a more “global” scale. They will be adding 90 new courses, and I’d would expect Coursera to be offering some new courses translated in different languages, and with a more “global” outlook.

EdX will be adding 6 new partners to their existing 6 members. 5 of the new members are international institutions. Again, they won’t be offering courses in any different languages “for now,” but expect this to come in the near as these MOOC providers being fighting for users in the developing world.

There you have it. One month…..lots of “crazy” MOOC happenings.

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Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): What are they ?

While Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are not new (the term was first coined in 2008), they are, however, starting to gain attention in Higher Education.

What exactly are MOOCs ?

Basically, a MOOC is an online lecture based course that is offered for free to the masses.

How many people really participate in a MOOC ?

The first “breakthrough” with MOOCS came in the fall of 2008 when two Stanford professors offered a class on Artificial Intelligence online and for free to the masses. They had 160,000 people signed up.

Where can I take a MOOC ?

Today, several organizations offer these courses. I’ve listed some of my favorites below:

  • Coursera: 206 courses on topics that include humanities, medicine, biology, social sciences, business, computer science, and more. The most popular MOOC site, with almost 2 million students.
  • Udacity: 20 self-paced courses, mostly covering computer science.
  • edX: Free online courses offered by prominent Universities (MIT, Harvard, Berkley, University of Texas).



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