How a MOOC is Strengthening Local Economies

This post comes to courtesy of Arjan Tupan. Arjan loves to learn about new things, and spends much of his spare time diving into the world of MOOCs. He's a nomadic European, an amateur poet, and also likes to run, read, blog and figure out this thing called parenthood. He loves to have a conversation with you on MOOCs and much more via Twitter. reveals more about him.


Ideation for Düsseldorf during the Beyond Silicon Valley Study Group


When Michael Goldberg, maker of the Beyond Silicon Valley MOOC, asked whether I'd be interested in organising a study group in Germany, for the next run of his course, I did not have to think long and hard about it. I had taken the first run of his MOOC, and was very excited by it. The course does not just provide interesting and valuable knowledge, it is also very inspiring to take action. Through the learning assignments, I explored the startup ecosystem in my region, and found the startup association Startupdorf of which I became an active volunteer/member. The study group seemed to be a great way to bring the knowledge and experience of the Northeast Ohio region (the basis of the MOOC) to Düsseldorf.

Three organisations (the U.S. Consulate General Düsseldorf, EBC Hochschule and Startupdorf) joined hands to set up a study group in which the lecture videos were combined with presentations of local ecosystem players to inspire ideation workshops. Gewächshaus ...

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Be the Change you Want to See With This MOOC



Change - photo by Robert Couse-Baker on Flickr


Last year, Professor Michael Roth, president of Wesleyan University, ran an experiment: he made a MOOC based on the Social Good Summit. He set out on a journey to learn and teach in his ambitiously titled course How to Change the World. It was a high-powered, intense course, which absolutely inspired students to change the world for the better. The fact that the course is now running for the third time, is testament to the success of this MOOC. We spoke to Professor Roth.

The first run of this course was, as you said, an experiment. You were learning along with the students. Now, the third run has started. What have you learned so far, and how did that impact the course?

I learned quite a bit about the issues, particularly concerning poverty and development. It was interesting to me to see how many students were suspicious of an agenda of economic growth, especially in regard to creating greater access to markets. Although I continue to believe that access to markets is crucial for sustainable poverty relief, I have included more material that calls into questions dominant aid programs.

As the MOOC is based on the Social Good Summit, you had a lot of content drawn from the 2013 event. Will we see influences from the 2014 Social Good Summit in this run?

Yes, absolutely. Each week I am sending a message to the students in the class with links to videos from ...

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How to Spot Fallacies and Persuade People


The Thinker, photo by Joe deSousa on Flickr

The Thinker, photo by Joe deSousa on Flickr


The public debate is often marred by fallacies and it always seems hard to detect them. But it's not just in the public debate. You can find wrongful argumentation and mistaken beliefs anywhere in your life. Fortunately, Radu Atanasiu of the Maastricht School of Management Romania is launching a MOOC on Iversity to help you analyze the truthfulness of arguments, and become more persuasive yourself. We've asked him about his upcoming course.

Can you give an example of a fallacy that angers you most?

I think that, when used for people, hasty generalization is the most harmful fallacy. Generalizing a characteristic from one or a few persons to all members of a group is the basis for racism, misogyny, homophobia or ethnic hate. I learned that it's never wise to judge people based on the group they belong to, especially when belonging to the group was not by choice, but by birth. Assessing each person individually may cost a little extra brain activity, but it's totally worth it!

Could you share a moment in which your expertise in argumentation helped you to be successful?

Sometimes I get to persuade my daughters to do what I believe is a good thing to do. Any parent can confirm that's a huge success. And it's very important for me, as we're trying to build our relationship on reason. For instance (and I also mention this in the course ...

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MOOCs-To-Go: The Apps of Coursera and EdX

This post comes to courtesy of Arjan Tupan. Arjan loves to learn about new things, and spends much of his spare time diving into the world of MOOCs. He's a nomadic European, an amateur poet, and also likes to run, read, blog and figure out this thing called parenthood. He loves to have a conversation with you on MOOCs and much more via Twitter. reveals more about him.


Learning on the go

Learning on the go: apps for edX and Coursera available


Coursera already had their app out a while back, and now edX is beta-testing theirs with a limited number of courses. I was lucky enough to be in one of those, so now is a good time as any to start discussing MOOCs-to-go.

Both Coursera and edX have started with the video-lectures, which is of course the key element of any MOOC. And the experience is rather similar. It looks great, and you can now watch your lectures on your mobile device with the greatest ease. 

Obviously, when you open the app, you first get your course overview, showing the courses you are currently enrolled in. From there, it's easy to open the course and a video. 

Both apps offer you the opportunity to download videos to your device, which can be nice if your data plan is limited. 

Next to the videos, both apps offer some other course pages. In the edX apps, it starts with the announcements of the course leaders, and the handouts. In the ...

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How to Build a Startup Economy in 6 Lessons


Cleveland, Ohio - photo by Joshua Rothhaas on Flickr

(Cleveland, Ohio - Photo by Joshua Rothhaas on Flickr)


In the Northeastern part of Ohio, the region around Cleveland, something inspiring happened. After a decline in the local industries, resulting in job losses, brain drain and other things you expect to see in a declining economy, the region found a way to turn things around. And quite successfully. In the MOOC Beyond Silicon Valley, Professor Michael Goldberg of Case Western Reserve University talks to the people who were involved in creating an entrepreneurial and blooming economy, and they share their knowledge. Anybody can now learn what it takes, and how you can start with either reviving your economy, or strengthen an already good economy, by focusing on entrepreneurs. During the first run, places varying from Greece to Belize have already learned much, now a second run will start on October 3, so you can benefit as well. We spoke to Michael Goldberg about the second run of his MOOC.

Your MOOC seems to be different from others in that the lecture videos are quite short, but the work you ask students to do is very goal-oriented, and can be quite intense. Why did you choose this format?

Unlike most professors who adapted classes that they have taught before in the traditional classroom to the MOOC format, I actually designed my course from scratch as a MOOC. I decided to produce more “documentary-style” video lectures in a shorter format than traditional lectures. I wanted students to learn about the challenges of supporting ...

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How Serious is Play?

In a new MOOC on the FutureLearn platform, Exploring Play: The Importance of Play in Everyday Life, professors Elizabeth Wood and Jackie Marsh from the University of Sheffield will teach how serious play is. Before the start of the course, we spoke to both to learn more about this MOOC and how serious play can be.



(Credit: photo by Ed Schiphul - eschiphul on Flickr)

Let's start with play: when did you last play, and what did you play?

Jackie: I was fortunate enough to be on holiday last week in North Yorkshire, and I played on the beach with my 2 year-old grandson. We played with stones, sand and water for hours! When we got back, we played his favorite app game on my iPad, making Iggle Piggle, a character in the children's television program 'In the Night Garden', jump from stone to stone by tapping the screen.

Elizabeth: Last weekend I played with my daughter's dog as he splashed about in a lake retrieving sticks.

How playful is this MOOC going to be? Is play going to be part of the teaching method?

There are certainly some playful activities (which we won't give away!). We want participants to engage playfully with the content, but also to see the contribution of different disciplines to the ways in which we understand play. As play is a serious subject, therefore, there is an emphasis on reading, observing and reflecting.

What did you find most enjoyable about making this ...

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Are MOOCs Revolutionizing Higher Education?

This post comes to courtesy of Swati Srivastava. Swati is an avid writer and a blogger who loves to share her knowledge and ideas on a wide range of educational and career-related topics. She has written articles for websites such as You can follow her on Google+.

The new buzzword in the education sector these days is Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Heralded as the future of higher education, MOOCs are online courses that can be pursued by anyone in the world with an access to the Internet.

Universities across the globe are trying to reshape higher education through the Internet. MOOCs are transforming the education scene positively, allowing students an easy access to high-quality and affordable course materials online. Students are no longer limited to classroom lectures. 

MOOCs entered the education sphere in 2008 and gained recognition in 2012 when Stanford University attracted over 160,000 students from about 190 countries by offering a MOOC on artificial intelligence. It is unclear what the impact on classroom education will be, but technology is sure to revolutionize the way higher education works. 

Key Benefits

Here are some of the key benefits I see with MOOCs:

  • MOOCs can open up higher education to millions of students who did not previously have access to it, thereby facilitating knowledge and skills development for all in formative years.

  • Providing free courses is a great way for universities and educational institutions to market themselves and promote their reputation worldwide.

  • MOOCs can be a low-cost ...

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Learning from Differences and Sameness in WORLD101x



Course team professors Gerhard Hoffstaedter and Fern Thompsett during the making of WORLD101x


This week, the classroom doors opened for some pre-course sessions of the edX MOOC Anthropology of Current World Issues. It looks to be a very interesting course that will be valuable for people in, or getting ready for, many careers. We spoke to Professor Hoffstaedter, the course leader from the University of Queensland, Australia.

Without giving away too much: which part of the course were you most excited about while making it?

This course is very different to any course I have ever coordinated. We had the opportunity to get out of the university, interview leading anthropologists in the US, follow our anthropologists into the field and document that. I got to see some very interesting places and met very interesting people, and hopefully that translates into the course and its materials.

For what type of jobs/careers is this course 'unmissable'?

I think anthropology is one of those disciplines that doesn’t feed directly into a job or career outside of the university, but its core messages, and what you learn studying anthropology, is applicable virtually in every field you might work in. Understanding otherness is central to any relationship, whether it is with your boss or an employee, and goes beyond the job. It can help you become a better person, well hopefully a more reflective and critically engaged one - 'better' is such a loaded term. So in any job in which you deal with ...

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Creating a Great Learning Environment with Community Management

Leiden University Observatory - photo by Flickr User ChrissyJ


Leiden University is a leading Dutch university, with a long history. Among its students over the past centuries were René Descartes and King Willem Alexander of The Netherlands. It is also a very modern university, with a dedicated MOOC team, which is very strong in community management. The driving force behind that is Tanja de Bie. We've asked her about the value and peculiarities of Community Teaching Assistants (CTAs) and community management in MOOCs.

Could you shortly describe the Leiden University MOOC team and your role in it?

The Leiden Online Learning Lab is part of the Centre of Innovation at Campus The Hague and has its own website:

This team has developed incredibly quickly since starting very small in 2012 when we launched our first MOOC (The Law of the European Union: An Introduction by Professor Stefaan Van den Bogaert) to our current size, and since then my role has grown to become the community manager of the team which encompasses not just the forums but also for instance our social media presence and brainstorming with the pedagogy team on how to increase the engagement of students. I have a background in online gaming (mostly through large forum communities) which is where my experience in moderating comes from.

How important are CTAs for a MOOC, and can you explain why?

CTAs form our lifeline towards the learners: they not only translate our authentic Leiden campus atmosphere (a challenging academic level and expecting civil discourse) to ...

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MOOC Bulletin, August 2014: List of 43 New Courses

Photo by Anita Hart available at under CC BY-SA 2.0

(Photo by Anita Hart available under CC BY-SA 2.0)


Below is a comprehensive list of new MOOCs (massive open online courses) added by Coursera, EdX and other course providers last month, separated by start date, institution, provider and language. If you would like to receive a list of new courses by email every month, just send us a message here or leave us a tweet @mooctivity.



Next Session




1) Collaboration and Communication in Healthcare: Interprofessional Practice

September 15, 2014

University of California, San Francisco



2) Foundations of E-Commerce

January 19, 2015

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore



3) Gut Check: Exploring your Microbiome

October 6, 2014

University of Colorado Boulder



4) Algorithms, Biology, and Programming for Beginners

October 7, 2014

University of California, San Diego



5) Bioinformatics Algorithms (Part 2)

January 12, 2015

University of California, San Diego



6) Corporate Finance Essentials

September 29, 2014

IESE Business School



7) Take the Lead on Healthcare Quality Improvement

October 15, 2014

Case Western Reserve University



8) Introduction à la programmation orientée objet (en Java)

October 24, 2014

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne



9) Power Onboarding

October 12, 2014

Northwestern University



10) Initiation à la programmation (en Java)

September 5, 2014

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne



11) Physique des cellules solaires au silicium

September 15, 2014

École Polytechnique



12) Teaching the Violin and Viola: Creating ...

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