Knowledge is power – OERs & MOOCs

Open Education Resources (OERs)

Open education is based on a philosophical view of knowledge as a collective social product. The    Open Education Consortium  defines it as  “sharing is probably the most basic characteristic of education: education is sharing knowledge, insights and information with others, upon which new knowledge, skills, ideas and understanding can be built.” To put it into other words, the innovation impact is greater when knowledge is shared and thus, users are not only more willing to reveal their knowledge but also more willing to work cooperatively.

The idea of sharing resources and information has been around for many years. Internet sites like Code Project, stack overflow, or illegal networks like Napster, have existed for one reason only: to shared information across the world for free.
The practice of sharing open educational resources has enormous benefits. If educators have tools and support material free of charge available to them they can easily create exciting, contemporaneous and real-time and experiences. In my opinion, there are many reasons why learning resources, resources to support teachers and resources to assure the quality of education and educational practises should be free because first of all sharing educational resources is sustainable in such that it will reduce costs associated with producing and distributing course material and environmentally friendly. It allows teachers to freely access, use, reuse and translate or modify the material as needed. Secondly, it enables teachers to share and to collaborate with each other and to give or receive peer review on their work. And lastly, it enables students to enhance their own knowledge by being able to access information that otherwise would have not been available to them.

Massive open online courses or MOOCs

Massive open online courses or MOOCs, in short, were first started in 2008 as a credit course for the University of Manitoba and were called ‘Connectivism and Connective Knowledge/2008’ or CCK08 in short. The course had 25 students who had paid fees and approximately 2200 learners who followed the course for free.

The real break-through for MOOCs, however, came in 2012, with a course called “Introduction of Artificial Intelligence” which was offered through Stanford University.  Approximately 1.600,000 students from 1900 countries took the course.

MOOCs, are courses, that are available online and accessible to everyone with access to the internet. MOOCs are very attractive to most people because anyone can enroll in these courses. For instance, edX is a well-known institution that offers students tuition-free courses with instructors from around the world.  It is important to know that there are two types of MOOCs:

  • cMOOCs do not follow predefined study material, but instead, participants will develop through online discussions and collaboration on the material to be used in class.
  • xMOOCs use a conventional approach where the course material and structure is predefined and thus used during the course.

The list below will highlight some of the advantages of MOOCs:

  1. Courses are free of charge
  2. Easy access to the courses from top-end schools
  3. Courses are available for a vast and diverse audience across the world
  4. Data captured applications will keep track of students performance
  5. Worldwide pedagogical techniques and knowledge sharing
  6. Ideal as a tool for a blended learning program, where students can access more information

Some of the disadvantages:

  1. Lack of personalized courseware and attention from teachers
  2. Difficult to keep track of so many students and their work
  3. Some students with disabilities may not be able to follow a MOOC
  4. A poor internet connection can be a frustrating factor
  5. Language can be a barrier
  6. MOOCs can’t be used as a credit-earning course

Success in a MOOC


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