Course Management Companies Enter MOOC Fray

Two new players have entered the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) game, course-management system manufacturers Blackboard and Instructure will be providing software to universities and other content providers to create MOOCs.

Instructure's new platform, called Canvas Network, is designed to allow schools already using their learning management system to increase the scale of their courses to accommodate tens-of-thousands of students. Nine universities — including Brown University, Ball State University, and Colorado State University-Global Campus — have already agreed to provide classes through the platform.

Of the 20 courses being offered by Instructure's partner institutions, all of which begin in January, seven would qualify as remedial or introductory—including basic arithmetic and English composition. The decision to focus early course offerings on high-demand classes, like freshman level U.S. history, is a marked contrast from other MOOC providers, like edX and Coursera, whose early courses were more advanced and technical in nature.

With 35% of the MOOCs being offered through Canvas Network designed to teach general education requirements, like College Algebra, questions about college credit naturally arise. However, there currently is no word on whether any of the school's offering MOOCs via Instructure will be accepting them for credit.

Three universities—Arizona State University, State University of New York's Buffalo State College, and University of Illinois at Springfield—have chosen to create and deliver MOOCs through education software company Blackboard's CourseSites platform. All of the schools had already been using CourseSites to manage the course content and student interaction in smaller scale online courses for months before making their decision.

Both Arizona State and Buffalo State cited faculty familiarity with the platform as a main reason for deciding to stick Blackboard.

Follow Alex Wukman on Twitter @AlexWukmanCMN

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