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News Roundup — Please Exit Your MOOC Through the Chegg Gift Shop

Welcome. Here’s your roundup of MOOC News for May 12, 2013

MOOC Gift Shop

by Kent Wang via Flickr

Let’s start with the big news first, even though you probably heard already. Coursera and book retailer Chegg struck a deal to provide some textbook material — usually excerpts or single chapters — in ebook form, for free, during some courses. Access would be limited to the time of the course. Only a few books and publishers are involved for now. And, of course, you’ll have an opportunity to exit through the gift shop on your way out, which is where Chegg and the publishers are hoping to make money. This gives teachers more flexibility in designing their courses since they currently rely on materials in the public domain or can only recommend texts for purchase without fully integrating them.

Of course, totally free and up-to-date ebooks would be another possible solution, one which is actively promoting with their Open Textbook Challenge. In fact, this week they released An Introductory Course in Elementary Number Theory, by Dr. Wissam Raji, Ph.D., of the American University in Beirut, under a Creative Commons license. They also have an extensive library of other free textbooks listed on their site.

Check back with us next week when we’ll be featuring a company trying to provide free etexts. In the meantime, I recommend Audrey Watters’ excellent analysis of open and closed content systems in MOOCs. You’ll see some reference in there to cMOOCs and xMOOCs. For the uninitiated, check out Debbie Morrison’s guide to the difference between cMOOCs and xMOOCs.

On to the lesser-known MOOC news . . .

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published a heartbreaker of a report this week on Student Loan Affordability. It turns out a generation of unsustainable and unforgivable student loan debt isn’t good for the economy.

Instreamia is a platform for teaching and learning languages through online media that has some MOOC applications. The unique feature is that it uses any online video that you might find and generates translations and vocabulary lessons from it. A limited number of languages are in play right now, including their SpanishMOOC. And they’re running a MOOC to assist language teachers called LTMOOC. It’s underway now and concludes May 27.

Instremia is founded and operated outside of any formal academic setting, which I think is going to become a bigger and bigger part of the MOOC ecosystem. Another example of an institution-other-than-a-university to crop up with a MOOC this week is The Learning by Giving Foundation, which promotes the teaching of effective charitable giving. They are partnering with Northeastern University to run a class called Giving With Purpose. Registration is open now for an unspecified start date this summer. If you ever wanted to learn from Warren Buffet strategies for giving your money away (which feels a little cart-before-horse in my case), now’s your chance.

Our under-reported MOOC of the week is Introduction to Big Data Journalism, in Spanish, from The Knight Center for Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. It will “address the basic concepts of data journalism, survey the current state of the practice around the world, new digital tools for searching and mining data, a presentation on mathematics and statistics for journalists, techniques for data visualization and best practices for the development of news apps.” Starts May 13 and ends June 16.

Lastly, voting is underway for the MOOC Production Fellowship sponsored by iVersity. Here’s hoping the runners up find funding for some of these terrific ideas.

As always, if you have some MOOC News that didn’t get enough Twitter chatter, make sure we know about it in the comments below. In the meantime, to get this news roundup in your email box, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.



Robert McGuire (52 Posts)

My content marketing services firm provides all-in-one external staff solutions for companies looking to grow their business through thought leadership. I started MOOC News & Reviews in 2013 out of a fascination with the economic, demographic and technological forces impacting edtech, online education and higher education, and I wanted to provide a forum for serious discussion of this new phenomenon. I love building communities of writers engaging in lively critical dialogue about emerging issues.