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Weekly Roundup: MOOCish Online Classes. Will “Free” Go The Way of “Open”?

Welcome. Here’s your roundup of MOOC News for August 18, 2013

MOOCish news roundup

Bill Gillette via Wikimedia

Some of the contributors to this site and I have been discussing the fuzzy line between what we might consider a MOOC and merely MOOCish, particularly when it comes to the “no-cost” part of the definition. There are a lot of online educational resources out there that look a lot like a MOOC but are missing a critical ingredient.

The most confounding examples lately lie in the difference between a platform and the particular classes on that platform. A growing number of companies are offering online courses for some kind of fee but that otherwise resemble the MOOCs from Coursera, et al., but they also offer some number of free classes on that same platform. For the time being, we’re operating with this definition of a MOOC and trying to note the wobbliness of it all where necessary. And in that spirit, we’ll be running a review later this week of one example of a free class from Udemy, a company best known for its fee-based classes.

Well, in the news this week are two other examples of the MOOCish online platforms. First up, NovoEd, which is getting less free. The online platform launched from Stanford University faculty last spring with a handful of classes from that school. NovoEd added several new classes this week, including many from other schools, all of them related to entrepreneurship. A few of those new classes are free to students, but most of the new additions require fees ranging from $249 to $999!

A similar example is from a new startup called Eduson. Like NovoEd, Their online courses cover a range of topics on finance and entrepreneurship, “taught by practitioners.” But about a third of the courses are free, and the rest have fees of $39 to $99.

MOOCs in translation

Another interesting thing about Eduson is that they are targeting business education in BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and, accordingly, some of their English-language classes have been translated into Russian, Portuguese and Chinese, including voiceovers of the videos.

The voiceovers are an advantage over some translation projects, which so far only deal with the written materials, including the transcripts of the lecture videos. Audio is typically limited to the original language. That’s the model so far for Coursera, which has a translation program for several languages and this week announced the extension of that program into Chinese.

While we’re on the subject of MOOCing in multiple languages, the Eliademy LMS is focused on letting course builders work on the admin side in their local languages, and they now have a French version.

MOOCs of note

One Coursera class starting soon is an introductory physics course with a lab element that has students using their cell phones to run experiments. I don’t entirely understand these online labs, not having experienced them myself yet. (Any potential contributors out there want to step into the breach and explain it to us?) But we’ll be keeping an eye on the concept, as lab work (along with studios, seminars and workshops) are one of those essential elements of education that have so far seemed uniquely campus-bound and impossible to reproduce online.

Colorado State University’s existing online program for tuition-paying students, CSU Online Plus, is starting to offer non-credit open online courses. First up is The Science of Relationships, taught by psychology professor, Jennifer Harman. It is for “individuals interested in the field of psychology and those who want to gain a deeper understanding of the science behind how relationships work.” It runs from Sept. 23 to Nov. 15. MOOCs on Student Affairs in Higher Education and on Water, People, and Nature: Addressing 21st Century Global Challenges are planned for the spring.

The Computer Science department of the University of Waikato in New Zealand is offering a MOOC on how to use the data mining tool Weka, which was developed there. Data Mining with Weka is 5 weeks long, starting September 9.

As always, I’m particularly intrigued by examples of the corporate world using free open-enrollment classes to attract clients and customers. An example this week is from Muse, the job search site, which has a new project they call Muse University with short courses in career advancement.


That’s all this week. If you know of some MOOC news that didn’t get enough Twitter chatter, let us know in the comments. 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.


One Comment

  1. Although there is some confusion and indeed there are different business models, we at iversity (https://iversity.org/courses) are delighted to offer all our quality MOOCs at no cost! We have big ambitions-we aim to become the coursera of Europe. Enrolments are open now, we hope to see you soon!