What if I decide to teach a MOOC? Well, then I should learn some Python :)

Well, I think that today everybody knows what is MOOC. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. You may heard about the term first from Stanford University, and then by Udacity, Coursera, edX, or TEDEd. So there is so much hype about the concept and the idea of MOOC’s, although it is not as new as we can think. Open Learning Initiative could be one of the first exploring this trend, or more recently, P2P University and Khan Academy. However, when you decide to teach your content following the MOOC model, there are some steps to overcome. First question is if you need your own platform or just use one of the available. If the answer to this question is something like “what are you talking about”, then you can pur yout content in sites like Udemy , CurseSite by BlackBoard or iTunesU, and forget about systems administration, users registration, machine requirements, bandwidth, etc. But you will be tied to a company and its constraints. Or, if you are part of a bigger institution, you can beg your boss to join to one of the biggest consortium mentioned above. Let me tell you something, this is not going to happen quickly (or at all, the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly), so better get a new approach. On the other hand, if you have a passable server with acceptable bandwidth, some tech guys with free time (what it is an oxymoron), and a lot of energy and passion, you can also setup your own infrastructure. If this is your case, what are your options? Well, just a few that I will enumerate.

  • OpenMOOC, aims to be an open source platform (Apache license 2.0) that implements a fully open MOOC solution. It fully video-centered following the steps of the first experiment of Standford AI-Class. It is a new approach but makes harder to add traditional questions no based on videos or even the send of essays. Is prepared to be used with an IdP in order to have an identity federation for big sites. It is able to process automatically YouTube videos and extract the last frame as the question if required. Because we particularly don’t need the federation, we removed that feature and added some more in our own fork, just to try the solution. Also is able to connect to AskBot for a forum-like space for questions and answer. Successfully deployed in UNED COMA.
  • Class2Go, easier to install and have it running but kind of complex to manage. It integrates very well with services such Amazon SES (that we added to our OpenMOOC fork), Piazza, the Khan Academy HTML-based exercise framework , and Amazon AWS. Used by Standford.
  • Course Builder, pretty beauty but hard to deploy or add content. Used by Google and some of its free courses.
  • Learnata is with no doubt the best documented and easiest in install. It is the underlying system of the P2PU and it counts with an active and real community behind. It has an awesome badges system, a detailed dashboard, and API, and a bunch of modules (formerly Django applications). But doesn’t manage videos as well as the other two.

All of them are built using Python and, except Course Builder, Django as core technology. It just so happens that here at CulturePlex Lab we use Python and Django a lot. That’s why we are currently forking everywhere and creating our own MOOC system. And that’s the magic of Open Source: we can fork OpenMOOC, take some features of Class2Go and another ones from Learnata and, whenever we respect the licenses, release a new MOOC system, the CulturePlex Courses (still under hard testing).

Next post? Some notes about what you need, in physical terms, like a camera, a monopods, a tablet, etc.


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12 Responses to What if I decide to teach a MOOC? Well, then I should learn some Python :)

  1. Are you guys really gonna make MOOC’s?

  2. Jessica White Plume

    Thank you for posting this. It is very helpful. I am a Native American Doctor in Psychology and Public Health and have a lot that I would like to be able to share with the world via MOOCs. Realistically I will not be learning python soon, so I would like to use a ready existing platform. Unfortunately, I am having some issues with each of the three above. I potentially liked Udemy best, but am experiencing serious glitches with their site as I try to set up my course which concerns me…are there other options? Thanks very much. Your work brightens our future.

    • Hello Jessica,

      I was just kidding about learning Python (or mayeb not!). So, in your case, a good option could be P2PU, or even consider Khan Academy if your content fits the site philosophy.

      Also, depending on the content you want to teach, we could provide a space in our platform for your course. But it won’t be open until January.

  3. Elliot

    Great post!

    I was just wondering when you plan on having that next post up – about the physical stuff. Also, if it not covered there, what would you recommend for simple video editing?

    • Hi Elliot!

      We are almost ready for the beginning of our MOOC, so a new blog post is coming soon. But for simple video editing even Movie Maker for Win, iMovie for Mac or even YouTube is enough.


  4. Elliot

    Great stuff!

    I noticed that the Cultureplex Courses site is up and running!

    I am actually doing some similar work here at The University of Sydney – looking to move some of our courses more online. Would it be possible for us to get in touch? You can email me at – edie5042 at uni.sydney.edu.au. I would love to hear from you and bounce ideas.


  5. Pingback: Now I have a MOOC platform, what are the physical stuff I need? | In my humble opinion…

  6. null

    Is this project still alive?
    It seems interesting, but I see no evolutions since January :(

  7. Pingback: Solar Theme » Now I have a MOOC platform, what are the physical stuff I need?

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