What is a MOOC?
The term MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course, these courses are accessible to the world. Through the use of technology MOOCs are available to the global population who can now take courses without moving through the more traditional paths of applying and becoming part of an academic institution and can experience the learning environment for free or for a nominal fee. Although this type of learning has existing in many forms for many years, the term MOOC has been credited to Dave Cormier as a result of a course offered by the University of Manitoba that involved George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and David Cormier (McAuley, Stewart, Siemens & Cormier, 2010, The MOOC model for digital practice). These three individuals, all based in Canadian universities and organizations, were engaged in examining the potential of open educational resources and the creation of knowledge. This original course was offered both for their university’s student population as well as being opened for the general public. Although this initial work has now expanded, grown, and evolved over time this does define what a Massive Open Online Course should be.
Our Philosophy for MOOCs
The Faculty of Science has embraced the design, development, and delivery of MOOCs with a multi-layered approach to learning in our digital world. Our philosophy is one of sharing our expertise in the field of science to the world and to those who would not be able to afford or have access to our traditional learning environment. Additionally, we believe that this approach will provide us with the ability to showcase our expertise and research in the field of science. By sharing our knowledge and experience to thousands of learners our courses give those with an interest in science a chance to explore and consider entering into this incredible field themselves, for those already engaged we can support their life-long journey of learning by adding another layer of knowledge to their experience, or perhaps we can provide another perspective for those with a specific interest in science. Finally, we have acknowledged that the time and effort required to produce MOOCs can be leveraged at many levels within our own Faculty as we strive to improve our use of technology and innovative learning approaches in our classrooms and beyond.
At our most expansive level the Faculty of Science is striving to provide our expertise in the sciences to the world, at no cost to the learner. Working with a major MOOC provider has provided us with access to a global population of potential learners. These individuals may simply wish to access our content to explore, engage or utilize what we can provide given our incredible faculty and research. Additionally, these individuals can, if they wish, pay a small fee to receive a certificate from the MOOC provider and we strive to ensure this can be done effectively and with our active involvement in terms presenting the learning experience and providing the small assessment components within our MOOC environment.
As a Faculty, we are looking towards increasing accessibility to our current students by building fully online courses around our MOOCs - these online courses are university, for credit courses and as such must follow the same processes and have the same level of expectations in terms of learning and assessment as any of our courses.
Finally, we are working towards leveraging the incredible resources created during a MOOC development to add value to our classroom environment - this will allow our classes to become more blended in delivery modality (although the type of blended delivery will depend on the course itself).
McAuley, A., Stewart, B., Siemens, G. & Cormier, D. (2010). The MOOC model for digital practice