martedì 29 dicembre 2015

MOOCs : a Revolution in Learning and Teaching

MOOCs: How they are changing our way of learning and also teaching 

I started my first Mooc course in 2013 - it was a Mooc course by the platform Futurelearn - - the course was " England in the time of  Richard III". I really enjoyed it: it was my first experience online as a learner and the course was provided by the University of Leicester. It was a  six-week course and we had  a  two- week break during the Christmas holidays. The videos and the links provided were really the ones I was looking for, in particular,  I loved  one of the activities as we were asked to think about the time and the life of a person living in England at the time we were studying. We had to post the activity and we had to share ideas about other students who were doing the Mooc. It was a great Community online!
I continued in the next two years with my CPD online and now some of the course I did are shown in my profile
Meanwhile, I discovered new Mooc platforms and also interesting courses ranging from Literature to History, English Language and  TEFL and   Professional Development and New Technologies.  I must say  that a lot of  useful courses which I finished  have helped me develop my CPD and also my way of working as a teacher.
The Framework of a Mooc course
 The pattern followed by the educators was this one:
- enrollment online and no fee payment
- course introduction and students' self-presentation online
- scheduled activities with videos and materials online to be checked and also downloaded
- questions and  sharing ideas online  in the forums
- searching for further information to be shared online
- forums and debates online
- for some courses we had to upload or create online activities to be evaluated
- peer evaluation and self-evaluation
- tests in the different modules provided online for some courses
- a mix of tests and online activities for other courses
- social forums and interactions on Twitter, FB
- videos are often uploaded online on the Youtube Channels that most of them have already opened
- feedback and a list of useful links for further studies
In order to get a statement of achievement with Coursera or or other platforms I had to finish most of the activities and to get a score for passing.
For others, for example, Futurelearn I had to do at least 50% of all the activities but we were required to pay for the certificate.

What most of the Moocs have in common:
  • free access to courses after you have registered and have created your own account
  • English is the language of most of the tutors
  • the opportunity of having access to materials in English and working in English, interacting in English with the teachers or the other students.
When you do a Mooc course  you get access to courses run by universities from all over the world: the first Moocs were developed by Coursera, an American platform which offers courses designed by other universities  from Europe and also Australia. Today we also have European  Moocs courses:   this is known as  Emma - this is a European network that provides online courses for teachers.
See also  where you can find a lot of interesting resources.
This is their presentation online :
 "The Academy is a platform where you can learn about innovation in the school and classroom through online professional development courses for teachers in primary and secondary schools.
The courses offered on this platform are completely free of charge ".
The focus of most of the courses they have run is on digital skills and e-learning in education.

A new Mooc platform is Federica, this is based in Italy- Università Federico II in Naples- and they provide courses in Italian and also in English. I have not  done any courses yet.
There are courses that are running now, others are to be announced. See for example what is presented online on the website:

What is missing
Maybe  they should plan courses that run for longer periods: I realize that this must be a great effort in terms of involvement on behalf of the professors and  the costs.
The last course I did was with Futurelearn and it was a course about the Holocaust: I was able to catch up as the course was split into two courses and the platform remained open and will remain open.  The course was a very demanding one and a lot of students are still working online to finish watching and reading the materials which were provided.  I am working on the materials online to make a short module about the Holocaust with my students of the  fifth year in my school. See my post  in

What makes or made me love  this type of courses

  • I have  built my  learning network - my PLN- as  virtually I have met  people like me who love learning.  They live in different parts of the world and share the idea that learning is a great experience. Some of them are teachers, others are retired people: we have become friends, virtually, and shared ideas online in some Google Hangouts run by the Professors who were working on some Moocs or we just shared ideas in the  Virtual Learning Environment thanks to the posts in the   Forums.

  • I have learnt online and I have been guided by great professors who have provided me with free courses about different technologies and also about  some Literature in English which I had not studied when I was at university:

I have learnt how to work online with  Moodle  thanks to the course  Moodle Mooc 7- you can see the plan of the Mooc  online

  • I have learnt about new web 2.0 tools and digital skills which are needed by  teachers and students in the XXI century.

If you are interested in them and in Moocs, have a look at the following documents and links:

What are  Moocs? They are changing but they all share similar frameworks

What people are still discussing about are matters about the quality of the courses and how people learn online: it is true we work online but anyone can do the course. They are called  Massive Online Open Courses ( Moocs).  Some courses are for people who have a university degree, others are open to any person who is willing to learn.
They will not replace university courses but they can provide us with  online learning and in English so that you can undestand why some were really  successful courses.

In an interesting blog post  Nellie Deutsch  wrote about the importance of contact and love in teaching and in education I agree with what she wrote in the post but I would add that free education and sharing  knowledge and education can help a lot of educators too. I live in Italy and  love working online because I can choose when to work online and I can deepen my knowledge into new paths. Most universities do not offer online courses in English  for teachers who need to be updated and most of the courses are not related to my field  and interests: education, professional development ,e-learning and literature and history.
 Just think about people who cannot afford to travel and attend face-to-face courses and need to continue their professional development. Working 5 days a week and not being able to do a course in English implies that I cannot continue my learning path as an educator in my country. Thanks to online learning and  Moocs I have updated my toolbox.
People who need to learn about new web tools- people like me- have now learnt how to use modern technology thanks to the help and advice provided in the  courses which were run by Coursera and Futurelearn. I am aware that  I do need to continue learning, but I have also learnt how to  teach by  flipping the classroom, blended learning is not an unknown word and I can manage.

My collection of weblinks for Moocs:

Free material online  from   :

Where to find information about   Moocs and new courses online:

The Business of Education and what is happening now online:

MOOC: dall'Accademia alle Aziende from DoceboElearningITA

What next?

In February I will start the second part of the course about  Blended Learning via Futurelearn and I hope that I will learn how to implement my teaching and to meet the needs of my students who are now citizens of the digitalized world.

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