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Thousands sign up for 'massive' online learning course

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By Blake Wood

More than 2,000 students from 50 countries are enrolled in a free online course launched Monday by the University of Illinois at Springfield.

The topic of the online course, offered by the UIS Center for Online Learning, Research and Service, is “Online Learning Today ... and Tomorrow.”

The “MOOC” (pronounced MOO-k), or Massive Open Online Course, continues through Aug. 19. All content can be found online.

“One can start anywhere in the course, take only some sections that are of interest and skip others. It is not graded,” said the center’s director, Ray Schroeder.

The course will have some scheduled events, such as live Webinars, but those will be recorded for later viewing.

No academic or continuing education credit will be awarded as part of the course, but faculty members at any level can use the free, online materials as part of their coursework. Materials will remain online for use after the class.

“As a national leader in the field, UIS is invested in the development of online resources to advance the quality of online teaching and learning in higher education as a whole,” Schroeder said.

“The open online learning resources movement is gaining traction around the world. In order to contribute to that cause and to examine the viability of the emerging MOOC approach to learning, we are launching this experiment.”

UIS invited experts from the online learning world to take part in the online discussion and lead sessions.

The center will document the course’s development and deployment and conduct an assessment later this year to learn more about Massive Open Online Courses.

The first “MOOC” was developed by George Siemens of Athabasca University (a panelist for the UIS course) and Stephen Downes of the National Research Council of Canada in 2008.

For more information, email colrs@uis.edu or call 217-206- 7317.

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