I’m not going to reinvent the wheel and explain what a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is. Tons of people are trying to explain this “new” trend.
While I think most of the craze around MOOCs is the fact that some big institutions are offering interactive versions of their courses with recorded slides and video lectures, the what makes a MOOC engaging is what makes any sort of eLearning or Learning without the “e” engaging: clear objectives, connectedness, knowledge/skill transfer optimization, fun (why not?), scaffolding… all those words you threw around in grad school.
So, whether you’re designing a MOOC or any type of learning experience, forget the term, design it thinking of your audience and objectives that will help them acquire skills and knowledge they can actually USE.
The technology is an enabler, not a driver.
What is a MOOC?
Massive Open Online Course (Wikipedia)
MOOC Guide (Wikispaces)
Massive Open Online Course (references from Educause)
MOOC Advisor (blog and resources about MOOCs)
Explore a possible online instructional technology masters degree.
I know, too many buzzwords flying around. So, how do you keep up with all the terminology and make sure you’re not missing out on trends that *might* have a positive impact in your learning programs or personal learning experiences? Answer: keep up with resources such as this cheat sheet for Educational Technology Trends compiled by the people at Boundless in infographic form:
Source article from LearnDash.
I can’t begin to stress how learning languages opened my life to new opportunities, coming from the countryside of Brazil
There are several ways to learn a language for free online: Skype meetups, virtual worlds, video chats, chatrooms (I used to go to my sister’s house to get on ICQ chatrooms to practice English on her computer), applications, open curricula, and so forth… many of these discussed previously on this blog.
Duolingo is especially interesting because:
Duolingo currently (June 2013) offers courses in:
Look for Duolingo on your app store and download it for free.
Pick a language and start learning!
Several universities world-wide have made their courseware available in different formats over the years. A very popular format is that of podcasts on iTunesU or video lectures on Youtube. See, for instance, this broad list of “free courseware” offerings by major universities. Yale, for example, has made several past lectures available on their Open Yale website. The Open University lets students try course materials for free on their OpenLearn resources page, which. Often, these courses are nothing but pre-recorded videos and audio elements (not full interactive courses) made public by the universities as a form of community outreach (which is already great, don’t get me wrong).
However, Stanford University is blazing trails for open online courseware. Anyone (as long as they understand the recommended prerequisites)can sign up to take some of their courses online, free of charge in the Spring semester of 2012. The courses will consist of live lectures (which can also be see later in an archive), quizzes, and forums in which online students can ask questions.
The current Spring 2012 semester offerings include courses on an eclectic variety subjects ranging from Computer Science to Game Theory, from Anatomy to Linguistics:
Computer Science 101
by Nick Parlante
Software Engineering for Software as a Service (SAAS)
by Armando Fox and David Patterson
by Matthew O. Jackson and Yoav Shoham
Natural Language processing
by Dan Jurafsky and Christopher Manning
Probabilistic Graphical Models
by Daphne Koller
by Scott Klemmer
by Andrew Ng
by Chuck Eesley
The Lean Launchpad
by Steve Blank
by Professor Dan Boneh
by Tsachy (Itschak) Weissman
by Dr. Sakti Sirivastava
Design and Analysis of Algorithms I
by Tim Roughgarden
Making Green Buildings
by Professor Martin Fischer
List adapted from The Rohan Aurora blog.
Sometimes, when I need some inspiration and ideas for words to use in a project, I take the visual route and consult a “visual thesaurus”.
These handy Web applications can help you quickly find new words for a concept you’re working with, visualize its relationship with other words, and, of course, amplify your vocabulary and aid you in avoiding repetition, replication, redundancy, and echolalia, et &…
Here are a few online visual thesaurus applications that are free to use:
SnappyWords -Soon to have its open source code available for the public, SnappyWords can came in handy when you want to share a word’s connections with others: each entry has a unique search entry URL that takes users straight to its visual “network map”. This service also provides a built-in hover-over dictionary (when you hover over each word’s node, of course).
VisuWords -Very similar to SnappyWords, this application doesn’t seem to allow direct linking to specific words. Built-in dictionary.
WordVis - This simple visual thesaurus lets you filter words by different parts of speech and categories. Once again, no direct hyperlinking to specific words is provided. Built-in dictionary.
GraphWords – This visual thesaurus has handy (am I using the word “handy” too often in this post?), I meant “commodious” social media sharing buttons for quickly sharing your word maps with friends on Facebook and Twitter. Unlike the previous services on this list, GraphWords has a drawback: no built-in dictionary is provided.
Merriam-Webster’s Visual Dictionary – This is a typical illustrated dictionary. Illustrations are available in different categories. The search mechanism (custom Google search) isn’t very effective, but the illustration work is quite comprehensive.
It is nice not to have to download any programs if you want to record simple screencasts and demos (and in SIMPLE steps) of your computer screen.
Here is an good review of ScreenToaster by Jane Hart.
What is even better is not to have to create yet a new username and password for yet another website. That is where ScreenJelly differs from ScreenToarter: although ScreenJelly works pretty much in the same way, you can simply login with your Twitter account… Well, if you don’t have a Twitter account yet, go get one and play with it at least to know what the hype is about…
ScreenCastle is another simple, one-button, Java-based screen recorder that works with not need for complicated software installation. It is based on Skoffer, which offer a useful option for the bloggers out there: if you are an advanced (well, somewhat advanced) user, you can use their API to build plug it into your existing website for even quicker recordings.
Best of all, these tools are free of charge (as of this writing).
For those who need to save their files and share them on the cloud. Here is a list of free websites that offer online storage (some can sync our files across multiple computer without the need for individual downloads and uploads):
Box - Free 1GB storage, 5 collaborators and a limit of 25MB per file upload.
DropBox - Free 2GB storage, offers sync’ing.
ADrive – Free 50GB storage, simple storage and sharing capabilities, ability to edit documents online.
ZumoDrive – 1GB free storage, sync’ing, iPhone application.
MediaFire - Free and unlimited file storage, limit of 100MB per upload, upload different files to different folders and share them.
eSnips – Share files with people of the same interests, Youtube and Delicious meet files storage.
There are many more services to explore, but these are just a few that stand out to me. You can find more by simply going to a website like Go2Web20 and looking for the tag “storage”.
Have your own suggestions, please share them here.
I am also interested in the use of file storage services like these in learning contexts (at school, at work, when designing instruction, etc.), besides the obvious: there is no excuse for forgetting a document anymore and the ease to share any type of file with colleagues, classmates and instructors…
I am a huge fan of having access to my files anywhere, anytime. On a friend’s computer, at home, on my mobile device (the iPhone), etc. Securely, of course…
I have written about file storage and sync’ing before, a lot of them are freemium (you need to pay for extra storage, more features, etc.). A few I’ve found have unlimited storage, like MediaFire.
Also, having a neat little Webtop (desktop on the cloud) can be an interesting concept as well and it is evolving little by little.
Watch out for Tonido as well, especially for those scared of putting their files out there on a server controlled by other people, well, Tonido lets you easily share files from your computer with not need for uploads… basically unlimited storage (for as long as there is space on your hard drive)… not WebOS, but pretty close and might actually work better than “desktops on the cloud” for now.
Mygazines is an online, simple yet comprehensive magazine archive. User upload, share, bookmark, send via email, comment on and, of course, read articles from magazines from all over the world. All this is a very sleek interface. First the user logs in and searches for a magazine they want to read, then they click on “read” and the magazine pops up on the screen in form of an elegant and feature-rich “flipbook”. The quality of the material is fantastic! Users can also use their keyboard arrows to browse through the pages of the flipbook.
Here are some of the features of the flipbooks (more info on their “flipbook help” page):
Just like anywhere on mygazines.com, from any page in the flipbook you can: