A brief review of the technologies that implement and sustain MOOCs

Get the complete book Thinking Strategically about MOOCs: The Role of Massive Open Online Courses in the College and University at Amazon in print or kindle version.

      Learning Management System (LMS). Blackboard, Moodle, Sakai, and Instructure are examples of LMS services in place on campuses now. Common attributes of LMS services include: discussion forums, file exchange, text chat, whiteboard and screen sharing, student groups and portfolios, tests and test management, gradebooks, student participation tracking, and accessibility compliance. The LMS is more than likely the core of your current online learning effort. Significantly, the LMS is also generally at the core of many MOOC implementations, with attendant supporting technologies. It is important to note that deploying LMS for MOOCs will impact your current LMS programs.

            Wikis. A wiki is essentially a website that allows users to add, modify, or delete content via a browser. Wikis are intentionally participatory and intended to be developed and used collaboratively, thus making them effective in the cMOOC environment. Wikis complement and may even replace centrally administered content management systems. The decentralized nature of wikis allows them to provide for efficient dissemination of information across an organization or community of practice. MediaWiki, DrupalWiki, and PBWorks are examples of wiki platforms in use on many college campuses.

            Blogs. WordPress, Drupal, Moveable Type, and Live Journal are popular blogs used in higher education. Ready-made templates make these blogs easy for users to implement quickly and to manage effectively. Academic bloggers have been making use of these resources for over a decade. Blogs are an effective tool, enabling reflection and participatory review from learners and instructors. As with wikis, the intentionally participatory nature of these resources makes them exceptionally relevant for MOOCs.

            Videography. Lecture capture and videography are an important component of MOOCs. Short videos developed using simple desktop webcams and delivered via YouTube are easily accessible to participants. More ambitious producers use high-end videography talent and tools to develop broadcast-quality videos that employ multiple camera shots and sophisticated editing.

            Social media and networking. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ are common social media sites used by faculty and students. MOOC participants have become acculturated to connecting via these resources and they use them quite effectively to stay connected, keep pace with trends, and share resources.

These technologies are in use today and have experienced widespread adoption by faculty, administrators, and students. However, programmatic support for them and for various other services varies, being dependent on available staff and budget. As you contemplate participation in MOOCs—whether as provider or participant—you need to consider the implications of such an expansive technology-enabled program in the context of your institutional mission, ability to provide support, and the potential for exposure and liability.

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