In the past several years, we have witnessed a true emergence of Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, which coincides with an increasing number of people that have access to high-speed broadband connections. But, for the time being, let’s focus on why MOOCs are so effective and how you can use them to your advantage.
One thing they have going for them is their versatility, which allows them to be introduced in the process of eLearning and education, as well as corporate training. Of course, their use is not limited to just these two, as they can be used on any occasion to spread knowledge and improve skills without the need to get a bunch of people in the same room at the same time.
In order for an MOOC to work, it needs to be built around an intriguing idea that will capture the attention of every single participant, be it a student, or an employee of the company. Easier said than done, because great ideas don’t exactly grow on trees. Fortunately, there are 7 fantastic online tools and resources that can help you develop ideas and methods which will connect with the participants and teach them new skills.
1. MOOC Platforms
One of the best ways to come up with your own MOOC is to learn by example, so let’s take a quick look at the most popular MOOC platforms which are guaranteed to inspire you:
- Coursera – Coursera is the biggest MOOC of them all, with over 4 million participants, and a total of 410 different online courses to choose from. It also sports a fine academic pedigree, since it was devised by two former Stanford University professors, and has connections to over 80 of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world, such as Princeton, Oxford University, and University of British Columbia.
- Udemy – Although Udemy has built its reputations in the industry as being the go-to platform for software engineers, designers, web designers, and photographers, which use it to create paid courses, it can also be used by anyone to create their very own, free MOOC. A figure of over 2,000,000 students taking part should be more than reason enough for you to check it out.
- Udacity – Udacity is the brainchild of yet another Stanford University professor, and its courses usually include topics from the field of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, so if you are trying to teach your students or employees anything that falls into any of those categories, you should give it a shot.
- EdX – Along with Udacity and Coursera, EdX is one of the largest MOOCs, and was developed as a collaborative effort between MIT, Harvard, and Berkeley. The platform also sports partnerships with Georgetown University, Boston University, as well as Google. Definitely worth checking out, based on the impressive list of names alone.
- FutureLearn – Based in the UK, FutureLearn is partners with the most renowned academic institutions in the country, save for Oxford University and Cambridge University, which are partners with Coursera. Also partners with the British Library and the British Museum.
One of the most powerful methods of organizing and developing existing ideas and coming up with brand new ones is mind mapping, which has been taken to a whole new level, thanks to mind mapping applications. We recommend MindMeister, which you can use not only as a brainstorming tool, but also as a means of collaborating with your students or employees, as well, and have them share with you what it is they want to learn, and which areas are the most challenging ones for them.
One of the disadvantages of collaborative brainstorming is that some people tend to dominate the conversation and present their ideas, while others, which are not as intrusive, tend to pull back, even if they have ideas which are better, but which get lost in the shuffle. It’s pretty much the same with collaborative apps, too. GroupMap may just be the exception, because it captures the input provided by every single participant, before moving onto collaborative brainstorming.
Lucidchart is a cloud-based tool designed to create diagrams. Now, you can use it to create an outline for your MOOC, and/or to introduce some structure into your course. The latter is especially effective, because Lucidchart allows you to create a variety of diagrams, flowcharts, mind maps, organizational charts, algorithms, and UML designs, among others. It works in all major browsers, and runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
Mural.ly is a collaboration tool which is unique because of its visually attractive user interface and the fact that is virtually limitless in size. You can scroll up and down as much as you want to fit the needs of your MOOC, insert multimedia, such as video clips, audio tracks, images, and even entire websites, and invite your students or employees to participate in the process. Perfect for use with tablet devices.
GoVisually is an online platform which can provide you with a collaborative environment for the purpose of organizing, collecting, and exchanging ideas. Its biggest selling point is its ability to handle visual content, especially when it comes to sharing and receiving feedback on your designs, which sets it apart from its competitors. Another major advantage is that the number of people taking part in a single project is not limited, which makes it ideal for MOOCs with a large number of participants.
Another app which supports your brainstorming process and has the ability to handle visual content is RealTimeBoard. Basically, it is your very own virtual whiteboard which you can use to collaborate with others and paste images, videos, notes, comments, drawings, or ideas. Ideal for those early stages of MOOC creation.
MOOCs are definitely the future. The only thing that remains to be determined is the scope of their implementation. But, that is not something any of us can predict. What you can do is use these tools and improve your workflow, as well as the knowledge of your students and employees, because that’s the future you can influence.
Antonio is a hopeless optimist who enjoys basking in the world’s brightest colors. He loves biking to distant places and occasionally he gets lost. When not doing that he’s working as a writing consultant at essay writing service Edugeeksclub. He will be happy to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter