What is a MOOC?

A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course; a free, online course, available for anyone in the world to participate in, and often without the need for any prerequisite knowledge of the subject matter.

George Siemens & Stephen Downes developed their first MOOC – about connectivism – in 2008. 2300 people registered for this MOOC. After that, Sebastian Thurn and Peter Norvig developed (in 2011) a MOOC about Artificial Intelligence that consisted of 160,000 people. This success is the reason that people develop a lot of MOOCs all over the world about on various subjects. In addition, more and more organizations are now developing SPOCs. A SPOC is a Small Private OnlineCourse in which the participants are known in advance.

Why MOOCs?

  • To challenge the participants to learn from each other, so called ‘social learning’; by adding game elements in a MOOC/SPOC, you can stimulate people to engage actively
  • Organizations can present themselves through a MOOC
  • A MOOC can create more broadening and deepening into the existent curriculum; blended learning is a way to do this
  • One teacher (facilitator) can serve a large audience, which can reduce the costs of running the course
  • It is possible to reuse educational materials, which can also reduce the costs
  • Educational materials are free accessible to everybody
  • People can learn anytime, anywhere
  • People can learn the things they need or want to learn at that moment
  • People don’t lose time on subjects they have already mastered
  • The learner is central in the MOOC
  • It’s possible to achieve a certificate of participation; Open Badges are also commonly offerded to those who meet certain criteria of a course
  • Participants can broaden their peer network
  • Educational materials are presented in an attractive and varied manner
  • Participants can add content to the MOOC, so called ‘user-generated content’ (UGC)

Where do we see MOOCs?

MOOCs are provided by organizations like Coursera, EdX or Futerelearn. In the Netherlands more and more colleges and universities are developing MOOCs in association with Next Learning Valley. For example: HAN, Avans+, AOG School of Management, University of Maastricht, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These MOOCs are developed in the innovative learning platform, ‘Curatr’. Based on social learning, content curation and gamification.

Future of MOOCs

All over the world, companies like VodafoneZiggo, Achmea, Bouwradius, Liandon, Deloitte, Parnassia group, IKEA and Vattenfall are developing MOOCs to educate their staff. Next Learning Valley works together with 90 companies, educational institutions and government agencies. A MOOC can be a solution in this digital age where we have to deal with an information-overload. We can’t imagine a future without innovating our education. We’re facilitating lifelong learning, anytime anywhere!