MOOCs Going Global: 10 International Initiatives Joining the Cause


MOOCs left quite the impression on the higher education sector back in 2012, with a plethora of articles touting them as the hottest thing to hit the industry in a long, long time. Standing for “massive open online course,” they involve hundreds – if not thousands – of students banding together to study whichever subject they fancy. Universities, colleges, organizations, and even individuals are breaking away from MOOCs’ American roots to stretch toward its more international potential.

  1. Futurelearn:

    Run by Open University, Futurelearn brings together 12 colleges and universities from the United Kingdom into the nation’s first MOOC platform, meant to rival American juggernauts in the industry like Coursera and Udacity. It will not start offering classes until later in 2013 and right now plans to keep announcements about what courses it plans to hold and other necessary bits private. Regardless, this initiative among not only the host institution but the likes of King’s College London, University of Birmingham, Cardiff University, and more, stands poised to address the critique that MOOCs exist as a purely United States-based educational pursuit. Supporters see this move as breaking away and exploring the class structure’s true international potential. No longer is education restricted to the student’s individual community, state, or country.

  2. Coursera:

    While based out of the U.S., Coursera took steps toward a more global reach when it partnered with University of London and University of Edinburgh in late 2012. Although British colleges have historically approached MOOCs with hesitation, this move as well as the Futurelearn consortium challenge their collective initial reticence. But because Coursera enjoyed so much success, their new associates decided to experiment with the trendy new online education thing. The fact that British investors are looking to put some money toward seeing what might come of the MOOC doesn’t hurt matters, either.

  3. COIL Center:

    Operated out of the State University of New York, the Center for Online International Learning (COIL for all you acronym buffs out there) doesn’t exclusively focus on developing MOOCs for a global usage. But it certainly takes advantage of the class type to further the cause of more international education initiatives and viable models, although they tend to shy away from the fancy term. This year’s annual conference revolves around incorporating a more regionally inclusive curriculum into online courses.

  4. World Education University:

    WEU would like you to know that it is NOT a MOOC. Except it kind of is in some ways, so we’re including it here. The major difference, however, sits in the fact that it offers up accredited degrees rather than only classes. While based in the state of California, the tuition-free World Education University explicitly targets an international audience. But the populist cost comes with an informal but highly recommended caveat. Graduates are expected to apply their educations to the betterment of society, particularly when it comes to spreading peace and charity throughout the world.

  5. University of Miami Global Academy:

    Most MOOCs come courtesy of colleges and universities and target students within that age range. But University of Miami’s Global Academy brings the massive online courses to more than 200 high schoolers around the world via Skype. Offered entirely for free, it provides three weeks’ and six sessions’ worth of SAT biology prep. Unlike many of the MOOCs offered to collegiate enrollees, this one allows participants to ask questions in real time rather than posting them for future discussions.

  6. Spanish MOOC:

    Launching January 21, 2013, this free MOOC lasts on into April and reflects one of the more obvious advantages to this classroom structure. Specifically, it brings together students hoping to learn Spanish as a second language with primary speakers from around the world. Interacting with individuals from nations where the tongue is dominant provides them with a unique opportunity to grasp the nuances and perfect their grammar, pronunciation, accent, and anything else they might need. Linguistically, anyways.

  7. OpenLearning:

    OpenLearning was founded by a University of New South Wales lecturer and started offering courses in October 2012. It blends MOOCs and wiki sensibilities by encouraging experts to host free or low-cost classes and share their materials with other educators as well as students. Classes, offered up in both private and public formats, touch upon a variety of subjects such as tech, business, foreign languages, and more. With, of course, others to come in the near future.

  8. Institute on Disability and Public Policy:

    Under the tutelage of two UN ambassadors, the Institute on Disability and Public Policy will host its first MOOC regarding the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Participants will convene in early 2013 to discuss human rights, especially as they pertain to the frequently marginalized demographic of the title. Major international organizations such as the UN and IDPP tethering themselves to the MOOC concept lend it an air of legitimacy that will certainly appeal to global colleges and universities.

  9. Carlos Martinez:

    Carlos Martinez, a teacher in El Salvador, found himself enamored with the MOOC model after enrolling in an edX class focusing on electronic circuits. Unable to convince the University of San Salvador (the nation’s only public college) to reach out to low-income students across the nation, he took it upon himself to bring massive online courses to the low-income students. One of his initiatives saw over 50 participating in the very same edX offering he loved so much, and they conducted experiments in the hallways of their classrooms. Martinez hopes the success of his project will convince Salvadoran schools to take to MOOCs in order to provide viable educational opportunities for more isolated student populations.

  10. Udacity:

    Although Udacity hails from the United States, it opens up its courses to learners from all over the world. Learners who adore networking so much, they took to Facebook, Meetup, and other social media sites in order to spend time together face to face. Udacity get-togethers occur on every continent save Antarctica, spanning 475 cities and 2,984 participants so far. Local students hook up (in the platonic sense, though you KNOW it probably led to some other kinds of hooking up) to exchange information about their classes, study together, and other collaborative educational pursuits.

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