MOOCs: Massive Open Online Course

This post was shared on the forums during EdTech 502: The Internet is for Educators:

Has anyone heard of or participated in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) before? I had never heard of the term before this summer, when the University of Illinois announced a MOOC on Online Learning Today for this summer.

What’s a MOOC? Check out this YouTube video, explaining what it is.

The MOOC course from University of Illinois looked interesting, so I signed up, hoping to participate. Well, with classes and work, that became impossible, but I plan to look at the content later.

This past week, I ran across the article, “Explore a New Learning Frontier: MOOCs” in Learning Solutions Magazine. MOOCs still look to be a very new trend, but it will be interesting to see what comes of them. Their impact, especially for adult continuing education purposes could be quite interesting.

Tech trends: iPad reading capabilities

Assignment reflection:

Following tech trends has been written into my job description for four years now, and in the past year I’ve started noticing it’s becoming harder to predict the “next” tech trend. I was very impressed to read the Horizon Report as part of this assignment. It’s been on list of “to-read” but I didn’t know how beneficial it would be. I may be a librarian and the Horizon Report is focused on education technology impacts. However, librarians are basically an educational institution, and I found the report’s information to be very beneficial for my current job. It’s good to know that there’s a go-to report that can help me now quickly discover what the upcoming tech trends may be thanks to this report. Furthermore, as an avid iPad user, it was good to reflect in writing about my use of it in light of the report.

The assignment:

The technology trend I explored could technically be considered to fall under two of the the trends: electronic books and mobiles, but for the purposes of this discussion, I’ll mostly refer to the electronic books (eBooks) trend.

I have been an iPad user since the first day it came out (and still own version one). This device has transformed how and where and when and what I read — and who reads with me. This has happened through the eBooks apps (Kindle, Stanza, Goodreads, iAnnotate PDF, Nook), through the magazine-like apps (Flipboard and Zite), through a RSS Feed reader (NewsRack), and through the Kids’ Books (The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, Green Eggs and Ham, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Cat in the Hat, Rudolph, Shrek, Toy Story, and Rapunzel). Those kids’ books are what my niece and nephew always want to read when “Aunt Heather” comes by! [The app links can all be found in my post “What’s on my iPad?”]

Depending on the situation and place, I can read at home, in the car (when I’m not driving), on a train, on a plane, at a park (in the shade), in line at the store, at a doctor’s office, in a meeting, basically in any situation where either device is at hand. I get more reading done this way.

Image of my iPad Kindle library (part of it)I have read numerous Kindle books on my iPad, many of which are thanks to the freebie-Kindle book tracking blog, eReader News Today. But I have also been able to quickly buy and access a lot of non-fiction books that I may not have read otherwise. All I need is a wifi connection for my iPad and I can quickly get access to any book. If I’m going on a trip, I don’t have to haul 20 pounds of books any longer with me for “just in case” — my iPad is loaded before the trip. If I need to add more content, I just find the nearest WiFi hotspot, connect, reload, and I’m good to go. Depending on the eBook app, I can highlight, make notes, or underline what I’m reading. I can interact with the text of what I’m reading in more ways that I have ever before thanks to the eBooks apps on my iPad.

The FlipBoard and Zite apps aren’t exactly eBooks but they bring in information from my Twitter, Google Reader, Facebook, and other online feeds and put it into an electronic, hybrid, interactive magazine format. These apps help me ingest copious amounts of information in real-time quickly. They make the iPad well-worthwhile. To see Flipboard in action, check out this video:

To see Zite in action, check out this video:

Zite: Personalized Magazine for iPad from on Vimeo.

Will eBooks replace the book? Many people are saying they will, but I don’t believe so [plus, the reading from a couple of weeks ago shows the fallacy of that type of thinking!]. eBooks fulfill the needs of yet another niche audience–voracious readers and consumers of information who are constantly on the go, yet can’t carry twenty novels with them at once. eBooks also can update to newer versions, cutting re-publishing costs, possibly. The impact here on education costs could be huge.

eBooks also have amazing possibilities in the future. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and some of the other kids ebooks/apps mentioned above are quite interactive. Many give the option to read to you. The possibilities to mix-up content in eBooks that was previously kept in separate formats will be limitless: embedded chat in an eBook as you read, the ability to mark up a book or document and have the notes digitally emailed to you, video and sound clips embedded, exploring citations, classrooms exploring with the eBooks of the future (now?).

Al Gore and others are working on a new publishing platform that will try to “Blow Up the Book”. See this TedTalk on “A next-generation digital book” for what is coming. It will be very interesting to watch what happens next.

I’ve addressed eBooks and my iPad usage from a purely personal point of view, but eBooks have also affected libraries (my current profession). I’m listing a few resources at the end of this posting that will provide more information on libraries and eBooks.

There are many issues still to be sorted out with eBooks, including licensing, DRM, content ownership (the statewide library consortia in my own state is battling this), accessibility issues, price points, platforms, and standards. Even so, the Horizon Report 2011 was finalized in January 2011, just as eBooks were exploding on the consumer market. People now have Kindles, Nooks, Sony Readers, laptop eBook applications, tablets, and smartphones that will all read eBooks. What will happen next?

More information

What’s on my iPad (a post I created on my personal blog that lists and links to all the apps on my iPad) and includes a couple of education apps reference lists

No Shelf Required (a library-related eBooks blog)

The Digital Shift: On Libraries and New Media (project and virtual summit from Library Journal and School Library Journal)

36 Frequently Asked eBook Questions from Public Librarians (from American Library Association’s Office of Information Technology Policy (ALA’s OITP))


Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., & Haywood, K., (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Digital inequality presentation

The presentation:

PDF of the slides, including speaker notes (PDF, 25 MB file)

To read the speaker notes as you click through the presentation, download the slides above or view the slides directly on Slideshare.

Reflection: As a librarian, where my organization’s territory crosses urban and rural areas, I am quite familiar with the concepts of the digital divide. However, I was not very familiar with digital inequality at all. After reading the articles, reports, supplemental reports I uncovered, and the new book, Without a Net, I have a very different perspective on how to resolve the complex issues surrounding the digital divide and digital inequality.

Before this assignment, I would have said putting the tools in the hands of those who needed them and helping provide assistance in making the services more affordable, would be the way to go. Now, I see that it takes a complex set of options and solutions in order to tackle digital inequality. There are very valid reasons for why people have not yet taken full advantage of the Internet, and for many, lack of skill and training is a large reason. Giving everyone a device and affordable access will not solve that issue.

I enjoyed bringing in a lot of the new research that has been released in the past couple of years, especially as it deals with libraries and how they are confronting the digital divide and digital inequality.

This assignment addresses three AECT Standards, including:

  • 3.2 Diffusion of Innovations: Diffusion of innovations is the process of communicating through planned strategies for the purpose of gaining adoption.
  • 3.4 Policies and Regulations: Policies and regulations are the rules and actions of society (or its surrogates) that affect the diffusion and use of Instructional Technology.
  • 4.2 Resource Management: Resource management involves planning, monitoring, and controlling resource support systems and services.

This assignment addresses the diffusion of innovations standard through researching and explaining several options to resolve digital inequality issues.

This assignment addresses the policies and regulation standard by examining the reasons why people don’t have access or don’t access the Internet, a large part of today’s technology world, especially in education.

This assignment addresses the resource management standard by developing and evaluating several solutions to addressing the digital divide, taking advantage of already existing resources.