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Open courses: The next big thing in eLearning?

TitleOpen courses: The next big thing in eLearning?
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsKikkas, K., Laanpere M., & Põldoja H.
Secondary AuthorsRospigliosi, A. E.
PublisherProceedings of the 10th European Conference on eLearning, Academic Publishing Limited
Series VolumeOECD
Publication Languageeng
Keywordsblog, open courses, personal learning, web 2.0, wiki, Wikiversity

During the last 15 years, eLearning has undergone a number of changes regarding openness of the learning environment, learning resources as well as the process of teaching and learning. After the initial period, when eLearning used mostly the tools of 'ordinary' Web, the first-generation of eLearning emerged large, mostly proprietary environments which firmly separated the chosen (students and tutors) from the 'barbarians at the gates' (the rest of the Internet) by using accounts and passwords. The tools themselves were shaped by creators, not users due to closed source and restrictive licenses. WebCT and early Blackboard were prime examples of this generation. The second generation of eLearning rode the wave of free and open-source software, bringing along a much greater variety of tools as the environments became open for modifications (e.g. Moodle, Ilias). This generation also emerged along with the rise of open content (powered by free licenses like the Creative Commons family) which in turn established the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement, examples of which are Connexions, LeMill, MIT OpenCourseWare and others. We propose that the emergence of Personal Learning Environments combined with collaborative wikis signify the next stage of eLearning. Open in both the environment and the process, it facilitates a more flexible and also more challenging model of learning. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) represent the radical conception of openness in eLearning, as all MOOC courses are open for enrolment for any Internet user. We started to use Wikiversity and personal blog- based learning environments in 2008. This paper provides a summary of our experience with teaching 18 open courses in 2008-2011, with more than 560 enrolled students. We analyse the design, learning process and learning outcomes of these open courses using the knowledge building theory by Bereiter as our main frame of reference and the framework analysis of the courses.


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