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. 

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