Sunday, July 3, 2011

EduMOOC; Online Learning Today

EduMOOC is an eight week (starting from 27th June, 2011) Massive Online Open Course being conducted by the Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service at the University of Illinois Springfield on “Online Learning Today... and Tomorrow”.The course is coordinated by Ray Schroeder, Professor Emeritus & Director, UOI. As a newbie to MOOC my initial impression is that MOOC is a self guided learning programme on given topics with the aid of a variety of ODL techniques and technology platforms wherein learners are free to chose their own choice of technology, say, google groups, twitter, facebook, blogging, live streaming etc. The academic support from the organizers will be mostly in the form of opening channels of communication, bookmarking resources related to the topics of the course, start discussion threads initially and conduct a live session in each week during the course time. Though new comers might feel a little bit confused initially because of the diverse platforms that are being used for communication, I consider the course worthy. 

The course structure is in such a way that, there will be a new topic for each week and the topic for the first week was “Online Learning Today”. Each participant in EduMOOC is supposed to make some sort of contribution on weekly topics - by way of group discussions, blogs etc - and to conduct further research/study on the proposed topics on their own interest. Hence this blog is actually my weekly assignment :).

Serious thoughts about virtual learning environments can be traced back to 19th century. However, interestingly, a clear imagination of audio/video communication network being used to deliver a lecture on Australian music to a remote audience can be seen in the short science fiction "The Machine Stops" written by E.M Forster published in 1909. In 1953 University of Houston offered the first televised college credit classes via KUHT, the first public television station in the US. These attempts were all part of the efforts to use modern technologies to meet the ever increasing need for education in a cost effective manner. Virtual learning activities got amazing pace in 1990s with the advent of Internet. Internet based online education originally began through various business houses using online training courses to prepare their newly recruited employees. Subsequently this method got popularity among universities and other academic bodies. 

Nowaday, since knowledge economies are becoming true, two principal responsibilities of the Education sector are: 

1. ensuring timely knowledge and skill sharing in accordance with the market demand and 

2. ensuring labour market acceptance of qualifications across the glob irrespective of the place form where it is acquired.

To fulfill the first responsibility the education sector and its industrial counterparts have brought out innovative learning methodologies and technologies for the intelligent use of eLearning tools in traditional learning setups as well as in ODL systems. In the case of the second responsibility, the education sector is triumphantly advancing towards a Transnational Qualifications Framework (TQF). Two promising initiatives in this respect are: 

1. The TQF concept that is being effectively propagated by Commonwealth of Learning though its Virtual University for Small States in the Commonwealth project and 

2. The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) initiative of EU 

Both of the responsibilities as stated above become instrumental for the amazing developments in Online Learning. Learning/Course Management Systems have bestowed the learners and trainers in the ODL system with amazing tools to dramatically enhance learning and teaching experiences far above the conventional face-to-face set up. These systems can facilitate formal and informal as well as synchronous and asynchronous virtual learning environments. They have features like web-based admission & approval system, Internet or Intranet Virtual web-based administration systems, assessment and competency modules, digital libraries, white boards, video/voice/text conferencing and chat, email etc. Thus Open Distance Learning, aided by C/LMSs, has expanded the scope/ and boosted the effectiveness of learning in Educational and Industrial sectors alike. It was further reinforced by free and open course management systems like Moodle. Moodle provides enormous freedom to individuals, institutions and organizations to design their own web based course management systems that can be hosted at their own facilities. Moodle is a strong technology that supports the ODL movement and is being nurtured every second by a devoted and open community of educators, education technology developers and practitioners. So far more than 42000 Moodle sites from 206 countries have registered their Moodle CMS sites with! You can see a large numbers of industrial houses, universities and online open distance learning institutions in the list. Remember that these are the figures from just one technology. There are many other major technology platforms like Blackboard, Joomla!, Canvas etc 

World’s many leading Universities have now started to offer credible qualifications through online learning. Moreover preparations for establishing an OER university is also in progress. Still, I would say, majority in the Higher Education Sector are yet to thoroughly understand the benefits of Online Education and use of OER.

Creative Commons License
EduMOOC; Online Learning Today by Anil Prasad is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.



  1. Informative.Is there any public finance related courses

  2. informative indeed. thanks for posting on TQF and EQF - I did not know of these iniatives.
    also the story by E.M Forster is incredible - a few longueurs, but the virtual environment is pretty spot on...considering it was written in 1909.


    the digital conservatoire
    @digitalmuso (twitter)

  3. Anil,

    Thanks for the post.

    Small nit: starting 27 June?