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MOOC News Roundup – OpenUpEd and Financial Aid for Signature Track

Welcome. Here’s your roundup of MOOC News for April 28, 2013.

by Cowboy Dave via Flicrk

by Cowboy Dave via Flicrk

Lots of commentary out there this week, but let’s focus on news you can use and insights that might have fallen through the cracks.

First, the big one: The launch of OpenUpEd. This is an EU-based, polylingual MOOC platform offering courses from across Europe. Mostly it looks like a collection of existing online ed projects gathered and co-branded in one spot.

We’re always curious about MOOCs that involve clinical work. Can this model provide quality training to health care professionals? The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing is going to give it a try with The Science of Safety in Healthcare, for “members of the healthcare delivery team, including nurses, as well as the healthcare consumers in the general public.” On Coursera, starting June 3. The JHUSON press release says courses on dementia and HIV/AIDS may be coming in the future.

Our favorite items in the news roundup are the ones bringing attention to courses outside the big platforms. International business students should check out Delhi-based Sunstone Business School, which is starting to offer courses in MOOC form using some content provided through a partnership with Saylor.org. Two courses on negotiation start in mid-May.

Which brings us to the question of institutional prestige. LISTedTECH has a fascinating analysis of MOOC platforms, evaluating which one is best according to the reputation of the universities affiliated them. (EdX wins when you slice it that way.) As I say in the comments on that site, I hope we don’t over-rely on institutional prestige when judging MOOCs. Obviously, the teacher, course design and mechanics matter more than the school they’re affiliated with. A lit of the best MOOCs is going to include some with teachers from less prestigious schools and some who are totally unaffiliated, a la Sal Khan.

Lastly, buried in the Coursera corporate blog are some interesting early details about their Signature Track program. (Signature Track ties your course completion certificate to a verified identity and portfolio. The fees vary, generally between $40 and $60.)

Some points of interest to students:

  • 9,000 students from 80 countries are signed up so far.
  • There’s a much higher completion rate — 70% — for people who sign up for Signature Track, lending evidence to what we argued here.
  • Those who don’t finish get a coupon to apply to a future course.
  • They have a financial aid program for people (mostly in developing countries, it seems) who can’t afford the fee.
  • They give some brief examples of how people are using the certificates, such as the nutrition counselor who uses his to show a broader expertise and attract new clients.

That’s not everything this week by a long shot, but it’s what we thought fell through the cracks and deserved special attention. Got any tips for us? Leave a comment and we’ll look into it.

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Robert McGuire (51 Posts)

I’ve been a graduate student in English literature, a newspaper and magazine reporter, an ESL teacher at home and abroad, a marketing consultant and a grants and outcomes measurement specialist in nonprofits. Currently, I provide higher education MOOC consulting services and teach writing at a local university, and my “other job” is volunteering for several local nonprofit organizations. I started this project because I believe MOOCs are going to be an important – not to mention fascinating – social development, and I want to ensure that students and teachers could participate in lively critical dialogue about it. You can find me on G+.