Amazon-style users' reviews in the 'MOOCsphere' – Decide whether to take that course or not

Amazon-style users’ reviews arrive in the moocsphere.

On each course’s description page, MOOCs platform has started to display a sidebar with reviews, star ratings, and in-depth comments. For this feature, Edx has teamed up with CourseTalk.

By reading peers’ reviews, users can decide whether they should take a course or not.

  • Prospective students will be able to quickly evaluate if an online course is a good fit for them before they enroll.
  • Professors will be able to have their work recognized (or not).
  • Students will help to identify best practices in online teaching and learning.
  • Academic organizations will gain recognition and help increase demand for their courses.



A MOOC to make blended learning available to educators

Blended learning –the strategic combination of face-to-face and online learning experiences– is growing in popularity within higher education and K-12 settings.

Well, now there is a free MOOC intended to provide assistance when developing and designing blended learning courses. BlendKit2014 – Becoming a Blended Learning Designer is a five-week MOOC that starts in April 21. It is offered on by Educause and the University of Central Florida.

The creators will share the valuable tools, information, and methods that have been developed during the past two decades. The course involves:

  • Readings from scholarly works pertaining to blended learning
  • Document templates and practical step-by-step “how to” guides
  • Blogging/social networking interaction opportunities
  • Regular interactions with facilitators and students
  • Expert and peer assessment and critique on design work

Participants may choose to pursue a credential from the Universal Central Florida/EDUCAUSE as “Certified Blended Learning Designer”, as well as digital badge that can be linked to their EDUCAUSE profile and displayed on professional and social networks. For that, they will need to submit a portfolio review –available for $89.



A MOOC on about helping charities the Buffett way

Warren Buffett billionaire appears in videos that are part of a free MOOC offered by his sister Doris on EdX’s platform.

Giving With Purpose: How to get the most out of your charitable giving” course is produced by Northwestern University and Doris Buffett’s Learning By Giving Foundation.

  • It teaches to identify effective nonprofit organizations and apply course concepts by awarding more than $100,000 in grants to student-nominated nonprofits.
  • It is designed to help students “become more purposeful givers and engage more effectively with nonprofit organizations in their communities.”

Harvard Business School launches a learning platform with innovative, interactive tools

learning management system

Harvard Business School has developed a new learning platform called HBX that uses technology to complement Harvard’s and MIT’s edX venture platform.

HBX incorporates real-word case studies, interactive tools and a “cold call” feature through which students must answer questions on the spot while their peers rate their responses. Soon it will introduce HBX Live, a virtual classroom that allows remote participants to directly interact with one another.

The first offering on the HBX platform consists of three non-credit courses: Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting. It is designed for undergraduate students, graduate students in non-business fields, and people just starting business careers. The fee for the program is $1,500 per student.

“Our offerings must be highly differentiated from existing alternatives. Our challenge is to establish a standard for excellence in online business education and pedagogy, just as we have established the standard for excellence in our case method classrooms,” says Dean Nitin Nohria.

(HBX’s principles).


Introduction to Linux – Another MOOC hit


Linux OS runs Google, Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, Amazon, Android phones and tablets; it powers 94 percent of the world’s supercomputers. In fact, it powers 9 out of the 10 of the world’s stock exchanges and increasingly cars, and, TVs and appliances. Linux is everywhere!

This “Introduction to Linux” course, run by the Linux Foundation, has attracted over 40,000 registrations in just four days.

Demand for Linux talent is on the rise. This course sounds like a great idea!



Want to create a MOOC hit? Learn from this edX course!

open edx

Why people believe weird things, how they form and change opinions, and how we can make better decisions. These are the answers that this course explores: The Science of Everyday Thinking.

This course, on the platform, went live at the beginning of March. So far– it has attracted over 100,000 people.

From the course-design view, this is a sample of how to capture and hold the interest of thousands of people worldwide.

The approach has been to film unscripted, real conversations with several interesting people across a variety of topics, and to film ‘lecture’ content in different, everyday locations, following a documentary style.

Creators traveled the globe to film conversations with clever people such as Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics, Elizabeth Loftus, who pioneered the study of false memories, Ian Frazer who developed a cervical cancer vaccine, and even the creators of MythBusters, about testing claims and distinguishing between fact and fiction.

“We met 22 leading thinkers from across the world and combined hundreds of hours of conversations, demonstrations, and assessment into short, highly polished episodes on how to evaluate claims, learn and remember information better, and ultimately make smarter decisions,” the creators explain.

This is the YouTube Channel where all of the videos are.

EdX and Coursera increase their audiences by trying out new revenue models

edx courses learning management, with over 160 courses on its platform, has crossed the 2 million students mark, while has attracted 7 million users also in almost two years.

Now both organizations are trying to convince partner universities that offering large-scale MOOCs is an important part of their mission that helps faculty expand their potential, and benefits to the world.

Most of the students are over 30, and are using the courses either for personal fulfillment or to improve their job skills.

In terms of sources of revenue, EdX and Coursera are fighting to become more self-sustaining while trying out a number of approaches and researching blended learning.

      • Coursera recently introduced a series of courses costing from $250 to $500 in which students can earn certificates that will be valued by employers.
      • EdX currently earns revenue from new executive education classes, which cost $500.
      • Another source for EdX is based on providing verified certificates for its courses, which cost between $25 and $200. Currently 40 out of 160 courses offer verified certificates.

MOOCs in Spanish to educate Latin America civil servants

idb edx
In Latin America and The Caribbean there are about 30 million civil servants. Many do not have access to specialized training, due to a lack of financial resources in their respective administrations.

In order to expand its reach, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will make their training programs accessible in the region through MOOCs and the Open edX platform.

IDBx will be the name of their edX platform. The first two courses offered in Spanish are: “Managing for Development Results in Subnational Governments” and “Better Pensions, Better Jobs: Exploring pension coverage”.

Five tips to film engaging MOOCs – Our experience


Videos are central to the learning experience, therefore the type of production we do affects student engagement.

We are now in a huge production for Francisco de Vitoria University, in Spain, and we want to share our experience. (The picture above shows Professor Ángel Sánchez-Palencia during a recording of a MOOC about Antropology).

Some findings:

  • Pre-production is key. We plan lesson content carefully before jumping to the ground.
  • Post-production is equally important. We add lots of images, b-roll and graphic resources. We don’t want to merely display a talking head.
  • We avoid studio recording. We like videos produced with a personal feel, filmed in informal settings.
  • We encourage and train instructors to speak in a quick and enthusiastic manner. We want them to bring out their enthusiasm as educators.
  • Shorter videos are much more engaging, since engagement drops after 5-6 minutes. (Regarding the engagement time, there is an interesting analysis from the University of Rochester).

World's largest catalog of free educational videos and games adds tests and quizzes

is a great content repository with 750,000 free, standard-aligned educational videos and games for the classroom – all curated by educators. Teachers and parents worldwide are using this catalog to enrich their students’ learning experience.

Now this website adds more than 300,000 learning assessments, tests and quizzes. These are all offered free of charge.

OpenEd helps teachers enhance their lesson plans, integrates multimedia content into instruction, and assists students with their work. Teachers can also create a “Playlist” of videos that can be shared with students or colleagues.

While OpenEd can be used with any learning management system, it also provides its own free LMS, allowing teachers to create courses while using a “recommendation engine” to find the best relevant material available.