Wednesday, 12 June 2013

What is a MOOC platform?

We’ve seen before what makes a MOOC and what makes a good MOOC. Let’s now look at what makes a MOOC platform.

A MOOC platform isn’t a MOOC.

A MOOC platform isn’t a listing of MOOCs.

A MOOC platform is first and foremost a branded website promoting courses based on a common Learning Management System (LMS).

What do most MOOC platforms have in common?

  • Technical hosting

MOOC platforms provide a place for course creators to host their content and manage their learning environment (forums, quizzes, exams, peer to peer assessment, etc.)

  • Publicity

MOOC platform contribute to the visibility of the courses on their site.

What set MOOC platforms apart from each other?

  • Curation of the content:

While some platforms are very open to varied course providers, Coursera and edX are in a race to sign partnerships with the World’s most prestigious institutions. Paradoxically the quality of the courses available on Coursera vary greatly (as Coursera’s partners are responsible for taking the decision of releasing a course).
By contrast, Udacity is very involved in the creation of each MOOC and even courses built with corporate partners have the same family traits.

  • Economic model:

The questions around the economic model of the whole MOOC ecosystem are endless and will definity not be settled in a blog post but most actors are for profit companies apart from three significant exceptions:

- Khan Academy, mainly financed by grants from large foundations
- edX, conceived as a joint research project by Harvard and MIT
- Futurelearn, the UK national platform

  • Open source:

Canvas Network and edX are both open source when it comes to their underlying code.

However, only some of edX courses are themselves open source and Coursera’s restrictive IP agreements implies that it co-owns all of the content in its courses.

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