An interview with Barbara Oakley, a professor of engineering at Oakland University, who spends a lot of time these days thinking about how people learn. And she may have taught more students than anyone else on the planet, as one of the instructors of one of the most popular online courses ever, which has had two million registered students. The title of the course is Learning How to Learn.


Um artigo de investigação sobre um grupo de 12 participantes num MOOC –


Despite the increased attention given to MOOCs over the last four  years, learners’ voices have been noticeably absent. This virtual ethnographic study was designed to examine the experiences of 12 adult learners with bachelors’ and masters’ degrees, enrolled in a four-week MOOC on the topic of human trafficking. Through the lenses of self-directed learning and self-determination theories, we were interested in investigating learners’  motivations  for  enrolling in  the  MOOC, their perceptions of success and completion, and barriers encountered while trying to complete the  MOOC.  Reasons  for  enrollment  varied  from  personal  enjoyment  to  professional development, and  differing definitions emerged regarding completion or success  in a MOOC. Implications of  this study  include a proposed conceptual  framework  of adult  learner MOOC motivations  and goals,  which may  inform the  intentional instructional  design  of MOOCs  to  better meet adults’  self-directed learning needs. Results also pointed to the potential for social science MOOCs to promote activism and attitudinal and social change.


Toward Personal Learning

Posted: July 18, 2017 in Moodle MOOC posts

A new ebook by Stephen Downes «Toward Personal Learning – Reclaiming a role for humanity in a world of commercialism and automation» –

«As before, it’s a collection of blog posts, published articles, transcripts from talks, some interviews (I’m saving most of those for a separate volume, one day), diagrams and images, and photos. Why personal learning? Each age sets its own priorities, and personal learning I think captures what is important today. The first is the idea of autonomy in a connected world. We are reaching the end-game in the century-long struggle between individualism and collectivism. I reject both, and essentially for the same reason: they reject the humanity of individuals. A second is the idea that we need to reorganize knowledge in such a way as to better prepare people for a complex and changing world. And the third is the tension between commercial good and social good, especially with respect to open learning and open content, but also with respect to society and values generally.»


Friends in MOOCs

Posted: July 17, 2017 in Moodle MOOC posts

The first MOOC I have participated in was Instructional Ideas and Technologies for Online Success, University of Indiana,  by Prof. Curt Bonk, which, at the time (mid 2012), impressed me very positively. Since then I have participated in over 40 MOOCs, promoted by different Universities in  various platforms.

Prof. Bonk conducted a recent survey on the issue of friendship through MOOCs, but only presents a graph on friends made by instructors.

From my experience I can’t say that I made any personal friend, though I have received one or two emails from other peers and the exchanges in course forum may be very friendly.

An interview with the chief executive of edX Anant Agarwal about the future of MOOCs in this platform –

«And right from when we started edX, we believe that, as we are transforming education and working with our university partners, it was very important to us that we created a nonprofit organization. A lot of decisions that we make would have been very different, had we been a for-profit that is VC-funded.

…So we expect to get to sustainability by about 2020. And, you know, that will have been about nine years or thereabouts to become self-sustaining. But even after that, our goal as a mission-focused nonprofit, it will be not to maximize profits but rather maximize the impact and the good that we can do to the world. »

A new digital era

Posted: May 27, 2017 in Moodle MOOC posts

A new digital era – reflections on a MOOC – 

Ubiquitous, mobile supercomputing. Artificially-intelligent robots. Self-driving cars. Neuro-technological brain enhancements. Genetic editing. The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and it’s happening at exponential speed.

I feel the same regret watching how MOOCs are turning on to business and replicating the traditional assessment models to issue certificates.

«As MOOC providers focussed on finding a business model, they started putting certain aspects of the experience behind a paywall, hoping to get more people to pay. MOOCs went from free to free to audit (nevermind that the concept of auditing a class is completely foreign in most parts of the world).

Free certificates were the first items to be shifted from free to pay. Then the graded assignments were put behind paywall. Now all the major MOOC providers have (or will soon have) some courses that are completely paid (even the videos).

This shift to a freemium model, with more and more chances to up-sell, seems to be working for the providers, with the top three players earning more than $100 million combined last year.

Each provider has a different model, and that can be really confusing to students. So here’s a summary of what free means for the four biggest MOOC players.»


Open Education in Sweden

Posted: March 8, 2017 in Moodle MOOC posts

A report on Open Education in Sweden –

«Sweden has a longstanding tradition of high quality education and it has dedicated great efforts into opening up their educational models and materials. Here you will find an overview on education in Sweden, the historical and political background, and a summary of Open Education Initiatives in Sweden. This country report for Sweden was written by Dr. Ebba Ossiannilsson, a Swedish researcher, advisor, and consultant with great expertise in open education and e-learning. This Article was written on 2017-02-07.»

Social Networks and the Building of Learning Communities: An Experimental Study of a Social MOOC –

The conclusions of the article are natural because a course has a duration and participants, even if they are engaged, tend to stop when the course reaches its end.  It’a already a success when effective participation takes place in the discussions along the course  because some courses have very little interaction, poor feedback, just resources to be consumed.

«This study aimed to analyze the student’s behaviour in relation to their degree of commitment, participation, and contribution in a MOOC based on a social learning approach. Interaction data was collected on the learning platform and in social networks, both of which were used in the third edition of a social MOOC course. This data was then studied via statistical methods and analysis of social networks. This study assumes that social communities would arise around the course, would remain over time, and that participants would even contribute with new proposals. The findings indicated that social learning communities are built and continue only while the course is open and while the teachers are involved in fostering participation. Although this study is limited, the design criteria of the course, the pedagogical model on which this is supported, and the methods applied for this analysis provide other researchers and educators with clues for better understand the dynamic process of social learning in social MOOCs.»


Posted: March 2, 2017 in Moodle MOOC posts

The University of Iowa and its International Writing Progrm launched his Distance Learning MOOC-Packs, the core content of the MOOCs of the last three years.

These MOOCs have a model of active learning meant for participants to practice writing, so this initiative is welcome.

«In order to support access to education for all, every time we create a MOOC, we also create a MOOC-Pack. A MOOC-Pack provides a MOOC’s core content, packaged with a how-to guide and extra instructional materials. Using a MOOC-Pack, anyone can lead a writing class or a study group.»