Dr. Alec Couros

Professor pioneers Massive Open Online Courses

Dr. Alec Couros, an associate professor of Education Technology and Media in the Faculty of Education Photo: U of R Photography

Dr. Alec Couros, an associate professor of Education Technology and Media in the Faculty of Education, describes himself as an “open educator” taking teacher education online and making it available around the world.

Couros is a pioneer of the open education movement, and his online courses are considered the precursors of today’s Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). These courses, offered online and freely available to anyone, have revolutionized distance learning, allowing for unlimited numbers of course participants – sometimes numbering in the thousands – and increased interaction between students and instructors.

Couros piloted the idea of an open course in 2007, in his Social Media and Open Education class.

“I proposed to the 20 education students in my class that we invite the world into our course,” says Couros. “I put the word out on Twitter and attracted about 200 people who volunteered to act as network mentors.”

“The unique, open nature of the course has attracted students from well beyond the University of Regina. Students from the University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Saskatchewan, and other parts of North America have taken the course for credit.”

Since the first experiment in 2007, the popularity of MOOCs has exploded; they are now offered at prestigious universities including Stanford, MIT, and Princeton.

The rise of the MOOC signals a major shift in how teachers, professors and educators think about education. “We are no longer learning in isolation,” says Couros. “The classroom walls have come down.”

Couros is well-respected both on and offline, with more than 72,000 followers on Twitter, and he presents at dozens of conferences annually around the world, speaking about the importance of online tools in our education system.

Reposted from: U of R Front page (Communications and Marketing, University of Regina)

For an in-depth story on the recent Digital Citizenship MOOC see our current Education News (page 7)

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