Even if you have not been following developments in the higher-education sector closely, chances are you have heard about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), or are even among those actively critiquing them. If by any chance you have not heard about MOOCs, our friends at the “MOOC News and Reviews” blog have a good article entitled “What is a Massive Open Online Course Anyway?” that should get you started. To get you more curious, we would like to let you know that higher education has probably never been more popular in the mainstream media before, as it is now, thanks to MOOCs.
The MOOC revolution (should we call it a revolution yet, or that is another hype?) has professors worried about being reduced to glorified teaching assistants while universities are worried about their own survival in the MOOCs era.
Amidst all this, we were actively following developments in the MOOC space when a tweet from the prominent Canadian educator, George Siemens, whom some have called the ‘father of MOOCs’ caught our eye.
Another tweet and yet another, and we quickly realized that the number of MOOCs had become “massive” and there was need for one place where one can easily find and manage MOOCs from different platforms/providers.
One of the hallmarks of MOOCs is that anyone with an Internet connection is able to learn from anywhere, anytime unless otherwise.
Whereas there are websites where one can find MOOC lists, there was no mobile app where one could find, in one place, MOOCs being offered by different universities/institutions on different platforms such as Coursera, Udacity, edX, FutureLearn and others.
We therefore developed a mobile app, MOOCs4U, so that anyone can access these courses on their smartphone or tablet, wherever they are. This app not only helps one to find the courses they might want to study among the hundreds of courses (and counting) offered by different institutions on different platforms, but also to organize them into watch-lists, signed up and completed courses. This can be especially helpful for those who have a large appetite for MOOCs.
Users of this app can review the course details such as start date, prerequisites, duration of the course and how many hours per week they have to put in, before signing up. This is very important given that most MOOC students are busy professionals or are otherwise engaged, and need to know how much time they can afford to put in the course.
One of the major criticisms of MOOCs has been the lack of student engagement in discussion forums, with most students feeling isolated within the crowd, given the large number of students.
This could be partly addressed by increasing the opportunities for students to interact, in the spirit of peer-to-peer collaborative learning, rather than restricting them to centralized discussion forums. MOOCs4U has a chat feature where students can have conversations one-on-one. We are working on improving chat such that those engaged in the same course can learn from each other, one-on-one or in groups.
As said at the beginning, the mainstream media is awash with news about MOOCs, so we had to keep users of our app informed. To do that, we included ‘MOOCs News’ as a feature.
For the next version of our app, we shall give users more features such as adding the course start date to the phone calendar as a reminder, so that they won’t miss any course. Users of our app will also be able to add certificates and badges to their LinkedIn profile from within our app so as to boost their resume, since MOOC credentials are proving to be of real value to employers and college admission officers.
As more universities rush to provide MOOCs in order to stay relevant and to compete favourably for the global student population, we hope that our app, MOOCs4U will be the top spot for students to browse MOOCs and enjoy the learning experience on their mobile devices, even while on the go! To chip in on the hype surrounding MOOCs, the MOOCs4U app is the closest to a “YouTube for MOOCs” that you can get, for now. Please find the android version in the Play Store and the IOS version in the iTunes store. Both apps are developed for smartphones and tablets.
If you have read this far, we would like to reward you with T-shirts that have a “MOOCish” design. Please check them out here and if you like them, let us know through our contact form so that we can consider sending you one.
By the way, incase you were wondering, if you scan the QR code a.k.a 2D-barcode in the image at the beginning of this post using any barcode scanner, for example this one (for IOS) and this one (for android), it will take you to our app landing page. Cool, huh? Feel free to use that image as a sticker.