Tag Archives: open

MOOC – What Is It?

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?

The MOOC Guide

Massive Open Online Course (Wikipedia)

MOOC Guide (Wikispaces)

MOOC.ca Providers List

Massive Open Online Course (references from Educause)

MOOC Advisor (blog and resources about MOOCs)


To learn more about how to design a MOOC the most effectively, consider earning an instructional technology masters degree.


Cite this article:
Silva E (2013-09-27 11:57:28). MOOC - What Is It?. Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 24, 2014, from http://enzosilva.com/blog/2013/09/27/mooc-what-is-it/

5 Not so Crazy Predictions for Education in 2012

It”s not not uncommon for geeks to do some wishful thinking a line any mortal hoping their tech dreams will come true in the new year to come.

Id like to make some predictions for 2012 as well. Just a few humble predictions and observations.

1. Education everywhere

And by everywhere I don’t mean the whole any device anytime anywhere hype. I mean, everyone in every part of the world (except cultures that don’t accept technology and our views of Education of course) will have access to quality Education and educational technology. We will see more initiatives such as EducateNCare, which encourages professionals to provide some of their knowledge and time to tutors children in developing countries online. With initiatives such as this, others will see the need to equip this on the other end of the connection, the local students and teachers. We’ll be even more aware of the need to capacitate professionals in their own native countries.

2. Open educational content will actually be OPEN

Many institutions offer open courseware and content for anyone to access. What we will see is more open source content out there, not just open access content, but content that can be reshaped, and shared forward with other educators and learners via a license such as Creative Commons.

3. Learning on smart TVs
With all these smart devices proliferating, Education should take more advantage of them and be, well, smart Education. eLearning is made mostly with the old desktop metaphor in mind. But thing about all kids of fantastic learning experiences we could have of we designed for different smart devices. I’m not talking just about mobile devices with gyroscopes, location awareness, multitouch interfaces, I mean even (smart) connected TVs. If even the good ol’ tube is changing; why cant we innovate in how we do education in it as well?

4. Micro-location learning and information

We’re all familiar with the concept of GPS devices or mobile map applications taking you from point A to point B with guided turn-by-turn directions and pop-up traffic/trip conditions and events warnings. However, these technologies are normally only for outdoors navigation. You’re lost inside a building. This is a problem that Google has taken on now with their new solution Google Maps indoors feature, which offers guidance inside buildings such as airports.  However, in 2012 we’ll see the rise of microlocation-based learning, which can provide guidance within buildings and institutions indoors. Imagine the educational uses of such mobile applications: exploring the workplace, accurately connecting with others inside of buildings to share information and perhaps serendipitously  meet up for lunch (yes, learning is about forging relationships with others with whom we share or not interests), on-demand information about machines as a learner walks by it. Better yet,  as the learner walks by that very same machine, s/he will  be prompted by an alert on their location-aware device that there is something wrong with it and that it needs repair, not only that, but the alert will show what exactly is wrong with it and give the user an option to follow an interactive strep-by-step repair “tour”. On the job support, information, and true task-based learning about specific concepts, tools, processes as the learner actually does it.

5. Education institutions will allow more social media

With the advent of better content aggregation and curation techniques, Education institutions will appreciate more of the educational applications of social media and feel safer in letting students access social media resources to learn. Youtube has recently released it’s Youtube EDU which allows educators and schools to allow access (mostly) to content they approve on their channel by using technologies such as filters. Students will be given access to a variety of social media services in school as these services start to offer options for content access based on some of the issues faced by schools, issues such as inappropriate or distracting content.

6. [Bonus Prediction] Motion-based learning gets popular and affordable

As devices like the XBox Kinect and Playstation Move start to become more popular, we should see more affordable motion-based learning experiences in the field. Moreover, we should see precise motion training and job aids coupled with Augmented Reality HUDs as employees try to solve real-life problems in the workplace.

Cursos Online Gratuitos da Universidade de Stanford – Primeiro Semestre de 2012

Varias universidades no mundo todo têm disponibilizado seus cursos gratuitamente na Internet em diversos formatos ao longo dos anos. Um formato muito popular é o de podcasts no iTunesU ou palestras em vídeo no Youtube. Veja, por exemplo, esta vasta lista de “conteudo livre” ofertado por grandes universidades. Yale, por exemplo, disponibilizou várias palestras passadas em seu site “Open Yale“. A Open Uninversity (Universidade Aberta) permite que estudantes “experimentem” materiais de certos cursos gratuitamente em sua página de recursos OpenLearn.

Frequentemente, esses cursos não são nada mais que vídeos pré-gravados e elementos de áudio (não cursos completos e interativos) tornados públicos pelas universidades como uma forma de extensão comunitária (o que já é otimo, não me interpretem mal).

No entanto, a Stanford University está abrindo novos horizontes com seus cursos abertos online. Qualquer um (desde que compreenda os pré-requisitos recomendados) pode se inscrever em alguns de seus cursos online (gratuitamente) que ocorrerão durante o primeiro semestre de 2012. Os cursos consistem de palestras ao vivo (que também poderão ser acessadas posteriormente em um arquivo), questionários, e fóruns online nos quais os alunos poderão fazer perguntas.

A lista atual do primeiro semestre de 2012  inclue cursos sobre uma variedade eclética de assuntos que vão desde a Ciência da Computação, à Teoria dos Jogos, de Anatomia à Lingüística:


[Cursos em inglês - tradução livre de títulos]

Ciência da Computação 101
por Nick Parlante


Engenharia de Software para “Software as a Service” (SAAS)
por Armando Fox e David Patterson


Teoria de Jogos
por Mathew O. Jackson e Shoham Yoav


Processamento de Linguagem Natural
por Dan Jurafsky e Christopher Manning


Modelos Gráficos Probabilísticos
por Daphne Koller


Interfaces Humano-Computador
por Scott Klemmer


Aprendizado de Máquina
por Andrew Ng


Empreendedorismo Tecnológico
por Chuck Eesley


O Lançamento Rápido (Empreendedorismo Rápido)
por Steve Blank


pelo professor Dan Boneh


Teoria da Informação
por Tsachy (Itschak) Weissman


pelo Dr. Sakti Sirivastava


Projeto e Análise de Algoritmos I
por Tim Roughgarden


Construindo Edifícios Ecologicamente Amigáveis
pelo professor Martin Fischer





Lista adaptada do blog Aurora Rohan.

Free Full Online Courses by Stanford University – Spring 2012

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


Game Theory
by Matthew O. Jackson and Yoav Shoham


Natural Language processing
by Dan Jurafsky and Christopher Manning


Probabilistic Graphical Models
by Daphne Koller


Human-Computer interfaces
by Scott Klemmer


Machine Learning
by Andrew Ng


Technology Entrepreneurship
by Chuck Eesley


The Lean Launchpad
by Steve Blank


by Professor Dan Boneh


Information Theory
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.

Free and Open Source Project Management Resources (on your own server)

There seem to be many free desktop applications for project management out there. Funny enough, most of the ones I encounter seem to claim they are also “open source”. The average user normally doesn’t care whether a product is open source or not since they won’t be developers after all. But it is good to keep in mind that most open source products have a developer community that is comprised of dedicated, often fanatic =) folks that will work hard on improving the product in their spare time and you can also benefit from that ideal.

Here is a short list of desktop project management software that is, open and free:


Open Workbench

Task Juggler




Online project management tools (free with some limitations) are now an easy thing to find since the Web has was labeled “Web 2.0″. Normally they include file sharing with version tracking and milestones. I have been pleased with Basecamp, but there are many similar products that are very similar and bring different features to offer that might be worth looking at. Many of them have applications available for mobile devices as well, making project managing accessible virtually from anywhere (where there is an internet connection):


Zoho Projects







Well, you get the idea… too many options… and prices are similar.


Some people also use wikis for managing projects collaboratively due to their ease of use for quick edits, attachments, ability to have multiple users contribute at once. Timelines, milestones, file sharing, to-do lists, project design documents, etc. Can all be easily maintained on a simple wiki.

Many companies use internal wikis on their servers with different permission levels.

You might also want to take a look at pbWorks’ plans (former pbWiki), the free account is good enough for most people managing small projects. Right now they have a limit if 20GB for file storage, etc.


The most interesting idea are actually team project management engines that you can simply install on your own Web server and keep total control over them (Basecamp clones). While you could pay activeCollab for access to their installation files and support, there are many free and open source options to explore before committing to purchasing anything :

ProjectPier - a php-based clone of Basecamp. Extremely similar look and feel.

DotProject – Although it looks more “raw” than others and certainly doesn’t bring the latest “Web 2.0″ look and feel out of the box, this project has a lot to offer including a ticketing system for bug submission and other support requests.

Collabtive – This server-side project management is very easy to install on your server. A little problem I found is that out of the box you can only share files up to 8 MB and I wasn’t able to find information on whether this can be changed or not.

Content Management Systems (CMS) like Drupal and Joomla are also so flexible that they make it possible for you to tweak them and add certain modules to a point where they work like (or better than) famous Web-based project management systems out there (aka Basecamp, GoPlan, etc).

OpenAtrium – Project Management based on Drupal.

ProjectFork - JoomlaPraise’s Joomla-based project management server-side portal (more hyphens, please?).

TeamBox – Ruby on Rails and open source team collaboration suite.

Other open source Web-based project management software that you can install on your server can be found on this post by nixCraft.


You might also be interested in free open source ticketing systems. And here you go:

A list from, well, Open Source Help Desk List.com.

Open Books and TextBooks Online, Free

Taking after the movement of open source (free – as in freedom) software development, knowledge and information has also been “open sourced” (and crowdsourced) as new Web technologies allow for flexibility and ease of online collaboration in generating content.

Textbooks are now on the same route and here are a few interesting resources for those who are tired of paying absurd prices for academia content out there. Let’s t get all of our mind and expertise together and share knowledge more wisely than the good ol’ authoritative knowledge consumption models allow us to…

Question: Why don’t more experts and professors join the trend of open books?

WikiBooks – From the same company that maintains WikiPedia, this is an incredible collection of open books in any subject imaginable. Worthwhile.

Flat World Knowledge - This website’s goal is to share quality, peer-reviewed books in many areas of expertise. The idea is that faculty will publish the books under the Creative Commons license and allow students to access tailored, good quality content without having to pay the (sometimes) outrageous prices for textbooks. They already have some interesting content up. From their site, we have their definition of an open book: “It is a great book by a great author, peer-reviewed, professionally edited & developed, and published under a Creative Commons license. Faculty may tailor the book to their needs. Students may access the book free online or buy an affordable print, audio, or handheld format. Students get choice; faculty get control; authors earn rapid market share, greater royalties over time, and do some good!”

Open Book Project - They still don’t have much in their collection of books. But here is what they aim to accomplish and I hope they succeed: “The Open Book Project is aimed at the educational community and seeks to encourage and coordinate collaboration among students and teachers for the development of high quality, freely distributable textbooks and educational materials on a wide range of topics.”

TextBook Revolution – This site’s mission on their frontpage says it all: “Our approach is to bring all of the free textbooks we can find together in one place, review them, and let the best rise to the top and find their way into the hands of students in classrooms around the world.”

Open eLearning Collections

Here is a list from WikiEducator.org that might interest many people. It includes many websites and organizations (such as MERLOT) that offer open eLearning content on the Web.



Open Source Alternatives to Web 2.0 Services On Your Local Server

Read this document on Scribd: Open Source ReadWrite Web Alternatives

Please visit the link above and give me your feedback in the “comments” below. Thank you. :)

Open Source Social Network Engines

No-one is impressed with the words “social networking” anymore. We used to have to explain to new comers what “Myspace” or Facebook implied. Now everyone can have their own social networks online with relatively no cost using open source solutions that I think deserve some attention:

1- www.elgg.org -> free and open source initiative. Very customizable, still need som work done, doesn’t have many of the standard features you would expect from a social network. Large developer base might bring important improvements over time.

2- www.drupal.org -> not exactly built for social networking per se, but has an enormous plugin database that can bring extra functionality, including the possibility of creating Digg-like video/news/websites/etc. aggregator that requires votes by community members so content is published.

3- http://update.peopleaggregator.org -> Myspace-like social network engine. Integration with OpenID. Still pretty “rough”, but has potential. Demo: http://www.peepagg.net/

4- www.boonex.com/products/dolphin -> more focused on “dating” but allows for customization. Many plugins have to be “purchased”, though.

5- http://www.barnraiser.org -> I can’t tell you much about it (not many communities powered by “aroundme” right now). It is open source.

6- http://civicspacelabs.org -> Drupal as a social network. Has free options for non profit organizations.

7- http://appleseed.sourceforge.net -> not much information on the website and no demos available. Open source.

8- http://lovdbyless.com -> new open source social network engine that has a lot of potential. Ruby on Rails. Some nice features and integration with Youtube and Flikr out of the box.

9- isocial – http://sourceforge.net/projects/socialnetwork -> not much info.

10- clonesumating -> should be a clone of “consumating.com”, which has been down for quite a while now. Quite a few features.

11- ozcode – http://sourceforge.net/projects/ozcode -> an ozmozr.com clone. Lets you build networks around feeds and friends.

12- http://insoshi.org -> brand new, lots of work to be done. Good for simple networks.

Also, http://www.mahara.org -> not exactly “social networking”. Good ePortfolio with some social networking around it. I don’t understand why people pay for some ePortfolio providers out there (you know what I am talking about). :) Just an example of how open source and free (as in no money or credit card necessary) can offer great features that are comparable to commercial products. :)

Open Source Alternatives to Web 2.0 Services

What we see happening in school districts, educational institutions and companies all over the world is the urge to adopt technology to manage and deliver better learning experiences. As a result, these entities end up “investing” (sometimes) significant amounts of money without considering free alternatives offered by the open source community.

The open source community has been growing ever since its start around the 70′s early 80′s with MIT AI Labs’ resignation to initialize the  GNU project and the Free Software Foundation. Around the same time the  University of California at Berkeley’s had already started working on their Unix system.

Why don’t the companies and schools save some of that money to invest in good quality open source and free initiatives?

Let’s see some examples of open source software that could offer great service in Education, yet, need more attention from technology adoption decision makers. I’m focusing more on applications that can be intalled on local servers, since one of the biggest concernes is “Who is going to access this resource? How can we keep it clean?” Hosting such services on an institution’s own servers gives them relatively more control than just, lets say, creating a community on Youtube or Ning (we’ll discuss whitelabel social networking suites in another article).

Why is open source better than proprietary software? First of all, it is free with the exception of a few projects that have thrid party companies offer add-ons that are not available in the project’s community. Second of all, the quality of the applications is guaranteed by communities of developers that are always trying to add innovative ideas to the projects because that is what they love to do. Moreover, open source projects are in perpetual beta phase of development.

The goal of this article is to mainly show examples of open source initiatives that try to replicate current mainstream Web 2.0 applications/communities in a way that allows anyone to install and tweak their own version of such services.

PHPMotion – So many schools and companies see the potential in video sharing communities as far as education is concerned. Websites such as Teachertube have become more popular amongst educators. PhpMotion lets you install a free Youtube-like video sharing community on your own server. Think of the possibilities here!

Moodle – Free LMS with several plugins to make it even morfe fun(ctional) and relevant to your needs. Some interesting parallel projects add much more to Moodle.

Sloodle - One of those successful projects that use Moodle to bring LMS functionalities to MUVEs such as Second Life.

ELGG – Create your own collaborative learning environment. Let the learners interact, tag, blog, exchange, pictures, videos, and information of all kinds. Your own social network. Thsi suite was created having educational setting in mind.

WordPress – Create a blogging platform for your organization, let the learners be active and post individually or edit/publish in groups. It is fun, instructive and helps them stay creative.

PLIGG – Add the power of the democratic Read/Write Web voting communities to your learners’ environments, it is all about them anyway, isn’t it? PLIGG was built by the open souorce community to be a Digg “clone”, so its primary focus was on social news. However, many people have used it to rank other websites, to post videos, stories, pictures, etc. [link to examples]

Photos – If the way we share our videos, documents, thoughts has changed, the way we share our photos has not remiained the same. Trying to find an open source clone for the widely acclaimed photos sharing service Flikr was not an easy task. More people have been looking as well. After a google searcb it is possible to see people asking for the service for a while and wishes have been partially granted. I say partially because the open source community has yet been able to replicate the service, nor does it seem to be interested in doing so. Some efforts to create open source photo management systems have been put into motion for quite sometime now.

Some intiatives aim at keeping educators informed and connected with the open source projects that are, for the most part developed for educational settings. Some of which include but not limited to:

SchoolForge‘s association whose “mission is to unify independent organizations that advocate, use, and develop open resources for education. SchoolForge is intended to empower member organizations to make open educational resources more effective, efficient, and ubiquitous by enhancing communication, sharing resources, and increasing the transparency of development. SchoolForge members advocate the use of open source and free software, open texts and lessons, and open curricula for the advancement of education and the betterment of humankind.”

MIT Open Courseware is MIT’s approach to open content for all. “A free publication of course materials
used at MIT.” Offering
lecture notes, problem sets, labs, lecture videos and demonstrations. According to MIT you can get access to a “wide variety of subjects” through this initiative.

Many other institutions, such as Stanford University and University of California at Berkeley offer content on iTunesU, using the open source approach to offer course material to learners all over the world.

In other posts we will discuss other open source initiatives, not exactly trying to “clone” specific Web 2.0 tools, not even Web-based at all.  We will talk about open source alternatives to commercial desktop applications such as Open Office - a productivity suite similar to Microsoft Office that can be downloaded and installed free of charge onto an unlimited number of computers.

More information on how open source can projects can benefit learners and instructors can be found here and all over the internet, that is now created and updated by common people, in a participatory and democratic way.

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