UvA MOOC – the kickoff

February 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

As an international student at the University of Amsterdam I am glad to be part of their first MOOC experience. If it is not easy to be an on-line student, imagine how difficult it’s to build a digital course, open for all. Challenge accepted, the Department of Communication Science at UvA decided to launch last February 20, their first MOOC: ‘Introduction to Communication Science’, led by lecturer Rutger de Graaf. This is the first open course in this field, and it began with more than 4.000 enrollments.

To introduce the first class, the Department set up a live kickoff, transmitted live through streaming. This was the perfect opportunity to integrate online and offline events. The kickoff took place in the exquisite Oost-Indisch Huis, former Dutch East India Company building where now lays one of University’s many campuses. In about an hour, participants were able to understand more about MOOCs and have a preview of what classes would look like.

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Credit: UvA MOOC

The UvA MOOC team also released on Twitter the hashtag (#UvAMOOC) and invited all students to join the conversation in the social network. In addition, spotlights and pictures were posted in the course’s official Facebook page, where the post “The MOOC is officially opened!” gained most attention: 44 likes. On Twitter, almost 100 students participated.

It is interesting to highlight that UvA has created their own MOOC platform using the open source Sakai software. That means that they’re not joining Coursera or Edx, two of the biggests MOOC providers in United States.

Although many Universities are creating their own MOOCs (or using Coursera and Edx to help them), the secret to success is still a mystery for academics and education professionals. The numbers of enrollments might indeed be massive, but the number of abandonment is also high. There isn’t a receipt for MOOCs, but with so many experiments being done worldwide (UvA MOOC included), educators might find the perfect formula for open distance e-learning. They have the best content and most useful web tools in their side. The challenge is to conquer best students.

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