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'MOOC' stands for Massive Open Online Course and is a fairly recent phenomenon (the New York Times declared 2012 the 'Year of the MOOC'): the notion of courses available online, for free, to anyone, anywhere. Learners can work their way through course materials independently and engage in discussion forums with others from around the world. Broadly speaking, there is no initial fee, no prior qualifications needed and anyone can join. The origins of the MOOC are in the open source community, a movement established around 2000, to initiate free and open sharing of software, and the like.

Although not always 'tutor-free', MOOCs have also been criticised for their lack of individual support, pedagogical soundness, high 'drop-out' rate and their potential to be less than accessible. They tend to be associated with prestige and Higher Education, in spite of their 'open access' origins, and learners certainly need a degree of digital literacy to navigate and engage successfully in the learning. The debate will go on, but momentum around MOOCs is growing, and Warwick has delivered its first MOOC through FutureLearn, with another MOOC in Computer Science having just been launched.

The UALL (University's Association of Lifelong Learning) AGM 2013 focussed on a discussion around the impact of MOOCs in lifelong learning. Speaker presentations and notes can be found to the right. Here are some notes from the presentations:

FutureLearn mike Sharples (OU) - seconded to FL as academic lead
OU owns FutureLearn - partners share revenue - exam fees, certificate fees,
A social approach to online learning
- telling stories
-provoking conversation
- celebrating progress

Online learning, blended media, social power of the web
- becoming a 'future learner'
- future learn a platform for MOOC
- 2-6 hours of study; 6-10 weeks
- mini MOOCs (introduction to courses)
- platform designed for multiple platform and device access
- all content elements have a discussion forum
- feedback with hints and tips
- social- constructivist learning
- agile development - 5 releases of software a day; refining of the platform
- John Hatty - what makes for effective learning
- making the progress of learning visible
-self-direction and social learning
- associate lecturers and mentors for support not possible
- vicarious learning (free flow of comments)
- choosing a buddy to learn with - following contributions
- 'knowledge telling' - a flexible interaction (things already said, repeated - 'light entry' approach); 'knowledge transforming' - a claim or statement for discussion - these are smaller group discussions

Key issues: following, mentoring, activity groups, peer review and assessment - 'liked' comments are bumped to the top; mentors analyse these - real time analytics to support those comments (including those who have not been 'heard')
Peer review - helpful, formative - reciprocal reviewing of assignments - these are managed as 'steps' of 20 minutes of activity/feedback
Peer assessment -

Jigsaw learning (20 people build knowledge together)
'Argugraph' - where do you stand on an argument

MOOCs - the return of the 'star academic'
Reputation management system - gaining credit for course completion, for being 'liked' (like eBay). Social and academic status gains you.

Bus model -hopping on and off

Issues to consider
- meta-learning skills and 'teaching'/coaching skills
- evaluation from students
- demographic and access issues

Jeff Haywood

The notion that MOOCs are very conducive to lifelong learning - not about HE really - more about open access to adult education
Timeline of MOOC development - see Wikipedia
Openness (like software) - will MOOCs remain true to their roots
Edinburgh - large number of online taught masters (50% desired -10,000 students in the next few years)
'FUN' - the French equivalent - direct management by government
Anonymity - never truly know who is there
Finding out more - an opportunity to see what online learning is like, without committing money etc
Learning style and MOOCs - how do you account for this?
Global + local groups - people getting together (or not wishing to!)
Submission by digital artefacts (e.g. Mahara)

Technology futures - personalisation (free and easy access, designed for me)
Video/audio - quicker than writing an email; real-time translation (across languages); digital presence

Taking ourselves out into the community - the travelling MOOC or mini MOOC

Personalised approach to assessment and accreditation - like the driving test - taking an exam or summative assessment at the point at which you feel you are ready

Philanthropic approach?

Issues to consider

MOOC as part of the flipped classroom
MOOC as access course for potential HE students
MOOC materials taken into the community/training community leaders in this