From MOOC to iOOC

Introducing Interactive Open Online Courses

Nearly 10 years ago, Massive Open Online Courses took the education and e-learning field by storm. Some promised that MOOCs would radically democratize education lifting up the masses through ungated access to knowledge and achievement. Others warned that MOOCs would devalue education as we know it, put universities out of business, and deepen divides of an oligarchy. Thrun, co-founder of Udacity, even predicted that in fifty years there would likely be only ten institutions of higher education that would remain unscathed.

Needless to say, not many people are talking about MOOCs anymore. What once filled the speaking slots of education conferences, have now settled into spaces of predictability. Still, there are valuable lessons to be learned from their rapid rise and un-exceeded expectations. To name a few: Widely available won’t always mean widely used. Accessible won’t always mean accessed. Learning needs to be social and experiential, and online learning requires grounded affiliations and incentives. Is there a place for virtual exchange in open online courses? We have found that there is. 

What we call Interactive Open Online Courses can reach a great number of learners and create a wide variety of learning environments. A range of interactive courses offered through the Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange project combines the deep impact of intercultural exchange, with the broad reach of massive open online learning. This allows young people to have meaningful intercultural learning experiences as a part of their formal or non-formal education. Interactive Open Online Courses benefit from the diversity in the backgrounds and nationalities of its participants and use it as primary source for learning; creating dynamic and interactive educational experiences.

Today’s students, employees, and citizens need to be able to strive in diverse contexts, regardless of their disciplines. Participants in virtual exchange develop the transversal skills required for economic and civil participation in the 21st century, namely cross-cultural competencies, digital literacies, and curiosity about experiences and understandings distinct from their own. 

Subscribe to our newsletter.Stay up to date about our activities and more.

More from our blog

FRAMES conference

After two years of working on the integration and accreditation of blended mobility and Virtual Exchange (VE) in Higher Education with the FRAMES consortium, it is time to present our outcomes at a closing conference. On 30 March 2023, FRAMES is organizing its final event on-site at the University of Siena in Italy. The theme of the event is “Framing Virtual Exchange and Blended Mobility in Higher Education”.

Read more

Stimulating virtual international collaboration in education, ‘the Dutch way’

Since last year, the Dutch Ministry of Science, Culture and Education is offering subsidy for Dutch higher education institutions to develop innovative virtual projects that foster collaboration amongst Dutch and international students. Any institution that has been granted this specific subsidy is also offered a range of activities to build capacity for designing effective and successful virtual projects.  Let us tell you why this is such an exciting initiative.

Read more

Toolkit for Integrating Virtual Exchange in Higher Education

The FRAMES Toolkit provides key information, inspiration, tools and case examples of the approaches that HEIs can take to integrate and accredit Virtual Exchange. The Toolkit is a usefull one-stop-shop for educational professionals working in higher education.

Read more

5 Fundamental Tenets Of Virtual Exchange

Virtual Exchange (VE) is a great way to allow for genuine interaction, learning and relationship development between people in geographically distant locations. Through VE, spaces for effective collaboration are created and cultivated. Using sustained dialogue as a pedagogical tool during the virtual exchanges, helps to foster healthy group formation processes, even between physically remote people. In order to sustainably enhance these outcomes and impact, there are 5 fundamental tenets of Virtual Exchange that support this process. 

Read more

Your different virtual personas

Being in front of someone ‘in real life’ obviously assists in clear communication, as it allows us to pick up on small social cues, to establish eye contact, and to have a clearer sense of prosody, tone, and body language. The truth is that we can still pick up on most or all of these in online dialogue, but this requires those involved to make an effort and use the digital tools at hand deliberately. 

Read more

"Take care of yourselves and the planet"

Towards the end of the 9-week virtual exchange 'Climate Movements', participants reflect and express their gratitude towards the group for the experience and the learning that happened. Facilitators invite participants to bring a ‘(virtual) parting gift’ to their last online session as a way of saying goodbye and celebrating their achievements. Over the years our facilitators have seen this exercise lead to wonderful expressions from participants, like digital cards and even musical performances. This spring iteration, one virtual gift stood out in particular for its relevance to the subject matter of ‘Climate Movements’. 

Read more

Innovating European Higher Education with Virtual Exchange

Sharing Perspectives Foundation is joining forces with partners to foster a harmonised implementation and accreditation of Virtual Exchange (VE), as an integral part of (blended) mobility approaches, among European Higher Education Institutions. The FRAMES project (Fostering resilience through Accredited Mobility for European Sustainable Higher Education innovation) aims to make the European Higher Education Area more innovative, intercultural, and resilient.

Read more