Open Education Info Center

Administrator: MOOCs and OERs – which one to go with?

The Year of the MOOCs has passed, but MOOCs still do get quite a bit of attention, whether it be positive or skeptical. If your Educational Technology department is considering some kind of open education initiative and would like to figure how to include MOOCs in it, you might find this section useful.

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What is a MOOC?

The first MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) was given by George Siemens and Stephen Downes as an open version of a campus course. MOOCs became immensely popular when two Stanford professors ran a course on Artificial Intelligence as an open enrollment course in 2011. The course attracted approximately 300,000 sign-ups. The following year, Harvard and MIT founded edX, a MOOC platform. Other MOOC initiatives such as Coursera, Udacity, and FutureLearn followed. Although often associated with OERs, MOOCs are very different in that they do not necessarily use open licenses. Contents are copyrighted in many cases, and users should use discretion when using the materials used in MOOCs. Here’s a short video on What is a MOOC? as a starter.

How can MOOCs be beneficial to the university?

Many people name two things as a major benefit to MOOCs: data on learner behavior that increases understanding into learning processes and marketing effect. As for marketing, TU Delft has reported that in the couple years that they have engaged in the MOOC project, the number of international students increased by 50%. MOOCs and web presence contributes much to marketing of universities.

What is the best platform for MOOCs?

There are a couple well known platforms: edX, Coursera, and FutureLearn. There are platforms that started from an LMS system such as Canvas and Blackboard. And there are still other platforms What platform to go with depends on what you are looking for in a platform.

Can a MOOC be made from OER materials?

Yes, of course. The Open Education Consortium and many other open education enthusiasts have emphasized the importance of using an open license in MOOCs’ learning material. However, the word “Open” in MOOC does not necessarily mean open license – it merely means open enrollment. The Open Education Consortium members have made efforts in creating MOOCs based on OERs (regardless of the platform they are on), and OEC began OECx on the edX platform for OEC members who wanted to create MOOCs based on OERs. If you are interested in MOOCs because you want to increase access to education for all, consider using OER for your course materials. And also consider a self-paced course where one can see the course materials and course sequence at all times, not just when the course is in session. That is a sure way to increase access to education.

Where do I start if I want to use learning analytics to improve teaching and learning?

Let’s start at the very basics with Learning Analytics FAQs. This presentation MOOC Research: What Can We Do with Big Data? might be helpful.

Is there an ethical guideline for using learner data?

JISC recently published Code of Practice for learning analytics and offers guideline for administering learner analytics.

How can you integrate MOOCs into the existing OER project?

Many of the early adopter institutions of OER were also early adopters of MOOCs. And in many cases, they integrated the OER and MOOCs into one department. This is because OER and MOOCs can complement the other in improving quality of learning, accessibility of materials, cooperation in intellectual property issues, and more. The two projects can create synergy when integrated. MOOCs can be created based on OERs, and MOOCs can publish its course materials as OERs.