Comparison of platforms and places to use to host your MOOC

As many of you know and voted (thanks for that) Steffen and I tried to get a MOOC fellowship in order to create a web science MOOC. Even though our application was not successful we decided that online teaching in the MOOC format is suitable for the web science lecture. With the structure from our application and the teaching last term we have some basic structure for the content the students should learn. Now we start to create the material but the question is what platform to use and where to host a MOOC? I was actually planning to write one single article on that topic but it turned out that there are so many different approaches to online learning that I will have to split my work into several articles. So here I will just explain my methodology and the criteria I will use to compare the platforms for your MOOC.
There is a lot of good information about the MOOC industry and current trends in the MOOC wikipedia page
Basically there are 3 different approaches to online education:

  1. Free content: The focus of these platforms (Khan Academy, Wikiversity, OER Commons, P2P university,…) lies in freeing educational content from the publishing industry. In most cases the focus seems to be on content and not so much on learning paths or didactics or pedagogy. The argumentation seems to be like: “first we need the content, next we can think about how to use it”. Have alook at my blog post: to see which open platforms perform well.
  2. Commercial: There is a rising industry (Coursera, Udacity, edX, iversity,..) trying to commercialize massive open online education. Commercial platforms usually have high quality content and strong relationships with universities (most often ivy league) serving a lot of classes in this new format. Courses are usually not available under an open licence. So far most content is available at no cost and the business model is related to certification but also sometimes to tuition fees.
  3. Self hosted with the use of a learning management system: There are various learning management systems (OLAT, Moodle, Google Course Builder, ILIAS,…) available as open source software which enables one to host a MOOC oneself. Most of these systems are made for eLearning and but lack this MOOC feeling of excellent usability. Often their intent also is not primary to be open.

This means besides this article I will publish three blog articles comparing platforms for each of the 3 different approaches. There is a German list of Learning platforms on Wikipedia as well as the MOOC Template in the English wikipedia from which I extracted the following lists

Platforms for online education

People related to online education

Not all of the platforms are relevant for a Web Science MOOC but still I extracted some of the most relevant sites and added a fiew others. As for the evaluation methodology we did a little survey and identified some possibilities. Since there are so many hosting services and possibilities we tried to find some dimensions that are important to us in order find which hosting service makes the most sense. We will use the following dimensions for our evaluation:

  1. Overhead: How much overhead is associated providing the content for a certain platform infrastructure?
  2. Open: Will the platform accept our course?
  3. Licence: Who has the copyright and how is the licencing model?
  4. Hosting time: How much time of hosting does the platform guarantee?
  5. Open Format: Will the course content be in an open format so that we can easily export the data from the host and take it to some other service?
  6. Feedback: Feedback for instructors like how long do people interact with some content?
  7. Quizes: Will quizes be supported in the Platform
  8. Community:Is there an active community and exchange of instructors?
  9. Audience:Is there a large audience using the platform?
  10. Support: is there active support from the platform?
  11. Online Meetings: Does the platform support meetings of students and teachers on the cyberspace?
  12. Account Management: Is it possible to have different roles for the accounts (e.g. student, tutor, creator,…)?
  13. Risk: What are the risks of using this particular platform?

At least my goal would be to find a service with the following answers to our dimensions:

  1. Overhead: Little overhead to submit the course material.
  2. Open: The platform should be open to any course.
  3. Licence: We should maintain the copyright or the licence should be at least creative commons
  4. Hosting time: forever
  5. Open Format: data export of the material is needed. e.g respecting
  6. Feedback: In order to improve we need Feedback
  7. Quizes: We need various forms of quizes
  8. Community:A community of instructors with which one can exchange and from which one can learn would be amazing.
  9. Audience:In the end good content will win but the larger the audience the better
  10. Support: A platform that offers support with problems is preferable
  11. Online Meetings: It would be nice if the platform supports online meetings of users with Q&A systems or even with video chat.
  12. Account Management: Multiple account roles would support the learning process.
  13. Risk: Obviously we want the risks to be minimized

I am looking forward to your feedback of missing platforms or other dimensions for the evaluation of the learning platforms.

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  1. […] article on open and free platforms to host your MOOC belongs to the entire series: comparison of places to host your MOOC. As already mentioned there are only a few platforms which really belong to the category of open […]

  2. Guenter Nimmerfall says:

    Hi! Da du ja eine deutsche URL hast, schreibe ich einfach mal auf Deutsch 😉
    Ich bin auf der Suche nach einem MOOC-System, das ich selbst auf einem normalen Webhoster (meist LAMP-Server) installieren kann. Bin auf OpenMOOC und EdX gestoßen, aber die Installationsbeschreibungen sind eher gewöhnungsbedürftig.
    Bist du hier schon einen Schritt weiter?

    1. So you ask for self hosting tools. Since self hosting was never an option for us (due to administrative overhead) I never really looked into these tools.
      Out of the box I would have recommended to look ad edX. As far as I observed the movements they have a pretty decent open source approach. Much more important than convenience in installing the software is that there is an active community pushing the development.
      So I would encourage you to take your time and learn about web hosting and use edX or if you don’t want to invest the time to learn that stuff you might want to reconsider self hosting.

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