Extension Engine

MOOCs & open source learning platform trending up

While the MOOC hype stage is definitely over, we have clearly moved into the productive stage where companies and higher ed are just quietly using the tool productively. Not only are MOOCs gaining in acceptance, the Open edX platform is a freely available open source learning platform for any organization who wants to create their own courses. What might you do with it?

In “MOOCs are still rising, at least in numbers” (in The Chronicle of Higher Education on October 19, 2015) Ellen Wexler gathered some data that reflects what we see here at ExtensionEngine — namely, that MOOCs are hotter than ever with an, uhhhh, massive uptick in interest in the last couple of years.

A couple of observations from a recent report discussed in this article:

  • “[T]oday the number of registered MOOC students added in 2015 is nearly equal to the last three years combined.”
  • 800 MOOCs had been created by the end of 2013 (when the hype was seemingly out of control), but over 3000 have been created since then.

Higher ed and non-profits have continued to commit resources to creating MOOCs, whether they be for credit, for marketing purposes, for continuing education, or for alumni outreach. Far from fading away, this trend has been accelerating.

More than any other quote, however, I was drawn to this one from Richard DeMillo, director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at the Georgia Institute of Technology:

edX has focused on building its technology, he added, and the company might see that decision pay off in the future. “The more people get exposed to the technology,” he said, “the more institutions are going to be drawn to it.”

This is exactly right. The edX technology is good, and it’s getting better all the time. But I’d like to make a broader, related point: The open source Open edX platform is the same software that powers courses on edX.org. Your organization can use this software as the basis for your own courses, whether you be in higher education or industry or a non-profit, whether you want to host a public course for 100,000 or a private course targeted to your employees, whether you want the course to have the generic “out-of-the-box” edX look or a highly customized front end. You can also, with some additional customization, use this platform to offer courses with additional social components, integrated adaptive learning, a competency-based education structure, or as the basis of a blended learning class. It’s all possible.

Your organization can experiment with the edX platform, can benefit from the huge investment that the Open edX community is making in the platform, and you can do it in whatever environment and with whatever exposure that you choose. This is a hugely beneficial setup for any organization that wants to learn about the edX platform and its capabilities.

Do you have questions about how your organization might begin to work with edX or the Open edX platform? Post your questions here or send me an email.