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OpenLearning is a MOOC provider that launched in 2012, and has offered several MOOCs to the public. They have now made a major revision to their platform which offers an easier way for anyone to create and teach a full-featured MOOC. The new features are as follows:
- Major visual enhancements to allow instructors to use colors, themes, and images to customize the look and feel of the course
- Easier course administration and drag-and-drop course module creation
- Expanded badges that can be instructor-specified, including the use of Mozilla’s OpenBadges.
- Real-time chat functionality that includes private chats with other students online
An admin screen where you can customize the look and feel of an OpenLearning course.
A Full-Featured Platform
OpenLearning has been allowing users to create MOOCs on their platform for a while, with the same design tool available to the public that professors used to create their courses. However, the admin functions were difficult to use and the overall interface was less visually appealing than other MOOC platforms. Both of these issues have been addressed with this revision.
You can use a simple web interface to design your course, determining the colors & images, and then the content modules. The content can consist of videos, links, assignments, and quizzes, and you can even specify badges that can be awarded. In fact, a distinctive aspect of OpenLearning is a big emphasis on social interaction, such as real-time chat with other students who are logged in, badges & followers, and the unique concept of “karma points”, earned when people like your comments, etc. On the flip side, the OpenLearning platform has less of an emphasis on assessment and lacks granular tools for grading (though there is an auto-grader for multiple-choice quizzes).
OpenLearning’s platfrm emphasizes social elements such as badges, real-time chats, etc.
If you create a public MOOC that is open to the public, it is completely free. If you create a private MOOC that has a restricted enrollment, as the course provider you pay $10 per enrollment, but then you can charge students whatever enrollment fee you want. (This pricing model is similar to that of Udemy, though with Udemy you can only create self-paced courses, not calendar-based MOOCs.)
OpenLearning co-founder, Adam Brimo, believes that there should be an easy way for anyone to create MOOCs, not just the teachers and professors at schools and universities with big platforms or partnerships. At present, OpenLearning seems to be the easiest way for individuals or professors at schools that don’t have the requisite institution-level resources, to create MOOCs on their own. Perhaps the MOOC.org initiative from Google and EdX will prove to be an even better option, but we’ll have to wait until some time in the first half of 2014 to find out.