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Making sense of MOOCs © Giulia Forsythe, 2012 and JISC, 2012

It is true that over the past few years , and especially after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic the opportunities for learning online have been opening up.

But I’m still wondering, are these opportunities available to everyone ? In this video, which dates back to 2012, Daphne Koller, co-funder with Andrew Ng of Cursera, talks about the origin of MOOCs ( Massive Online Open Courses) and the reasons why she decided to set up Cursera. As Koller puts it, MOOCs were born ‘ not as a substitute for college education but as a way to enable the idea of lifelong learning’.

We should also ask ourselves what MOOCs really are, and how many different types of Moocs are available to us. The term ‘MOOC’ was used for the first time in 2008 for a course offered by the Extension Division of the University of Manitoba in Canada. This was designed by George Siemens, Stephen Downes and Dave Comier, (I’m attaching here Dave’s blog as he continuously rethinks and restructures his ideas about learning). But what is Connectivism and is it important to better understand the principles and implications that lie behind the MOOCs ?

Further to that, what is the new mindset that users , both students and teachers and/or co-facilitators or e-moderators should have to better understand its implications? That is the implications for learners and instructors. I think that in order to answer to some of these questions we should first go back to analyse the origins of Open Education and the pedagogical approach that lies behind it.

To this end, you can visit Tony Bates website, on his website he makes available for free his book Teaching in a digital age . Here not only he analyses the underlying principles that guide effective teaching in an age when all of us, and in particular the students we are teaching, are using technology. A framework for making decisions about your teaching is provided, while understanding that every subject is different, and every instructor has something unique and special to bring to their teaching.

However, there are other aspects that can be taken into account here. A recent reasearch study carried out by Prof. Curtis J. Bonk, a well-known expert in the field at Indiana University, Bloomington and Dr Meina Zhu, Wayne State University, USA report some interesting findings about the impact Moocs are having on online learning , they also analyse other features involved in this issue such as the roles of facilitators and instructional design have on positely influencing interaction and engagement ( Garrison & Cleveland -Innes, 2005). The reference to this research can be found in this video .

About Open Education : some questions