Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs as they are called internationally, are one of the most important trends in online education in recent years. The influence of MOOCs is demonstrated by statistics showing the participation of 101 million students in approximately 11,400 courses offered by 900 Universities worldwide. Out of the total of 101 million trainees, about 20 million participated in 2018 alone.
Due to the widespread popularity of MOOCs, more and more Universities, as well as independent teachers and educational institutions, are transferring part of their education to online MOOC type courses. In this way, they can attract a larger audience than they could reach with their offline promotion.
But how easy is it for an institution or an individual to develop their own MOOC and offer it to the general public? What are the stages involved in the cycle of developing a MOOC? We will try to answer such questions below.
Stage 1: Pre-production
The first stage is the pre-production stage. It is one of the most important stages since it refers to the organization of the entire MOOC. A proper classification of the issues included in the pre-production stage, always leads to a more effective organization of the stages that follow this one. Spending less time at this stage will result in the delayed and inefficient (in terms of time and cost) development of your MOOC.
This organization includes the following topics:
- Defining the characteristics of the course. In this section, the instructor should write down the characteristics of the MOOC they will develop such as the course title, the duration of the course, the course summary, the start and end dates, and so on. You can read our article "How to plan the content of your course" to see all the features included in this section.
- Lesson structure. In this section you should list items such as the units and subunits that will be included in your course as well as specify the educational content in each of them.
- Creating the script. Before producing your material, it would be a great idea to write the script of each video so that it is ready and you do not have to decide on the content of each video during its development.
- Designating the MOOC development area. There are MOOCs that have been filmed in special studios, MOOCs that have been developed in a simple office, MOOCs that have been filmed in rooms, even MOOCs that have been shot outdoors. Your MOOC development area is very basic to the determination of the technological equipment you will use in each case (microphones, special lighting, camera lens and much more). Even the time of day you shoot a MOOC is important, especially if you are going to develop a MOOC outdoors.
- Defining the scenario of the course promotion video. Each course that goes online should have a short video lasting a few minutes (from 1 to 3) through which the basic elements of the course will be presented so that the viewer can decide if this is the right course to attend or not.
- Calculation of total development cost. What technological equipment will be needed? How many shooting hours will it take? How many people will be needed for each step of creating a MOOC and also how many people to support it? What content will be developed by you and what needs to be outsourced? All of the above directly affect your budget so these are issues you should consider.
Stage 2: Production
The production stage is what follows the pre-production stage. At this stage the recording of the audiovisual material (that will later be used for the creation of the videos which will constitute the course) takes place.
For video recording μπορείτε να χρησιμοποιήσετε από την κάμερα ενός κινητού τηλεφώνου μέχρι και επαγγελματικές κάμερες οι οποίες μπορεί να έχουν μεγάλη αξία απόκτησης. Όλα εξαρτώνται από το τελικό αποτέλεσμα το οποίο θέλετε να επιτύχετε. Πάρα πολλοί εκπαιδευτές αλλά και εταιρίες ανάπτυξης μαθημάτων MOOC, χρησιμοποιούν κάμερες DSLR γιατί έχουν τα παρακάτω πλεονεκτήματα:
- Reasonable cost of acquiring a pretty good camera
- Ability to shoot high resolution videos
- Very fast Focus in situations where movement is captured, but also when the subject needs to be moved
- Ability to change lenses to succeed the desired result
- Manual adjustment of focal depth, white balance, exposure, shutter speed and a variety of other settings
In video recording there will be many times when you will need to record the activity of the screen (screencasting). This is a very easy process and there are several softwares that can help you. A great application is Camtasia and ScreenFlow (if you are a Mac user). Whatever software you use, the end result is a video file that includes your screen capture.
Tip: When recording your screen, choose to record the sound from your computer microphone so that you can synchronize the recording later in the post-production process.
For sound recording you can use the camera's built-in microphone or an external one. The built-in microphone will cause you several problems when processing and its performance depends on the distance from the subject. Optimal sound options are to use a Shotgun microphone or lapel microphone. In these cases, although it is possible to connect the microphone directly to the camera, it is suggested that you use an external audio recording unit because the camera pre-amplifiers may introduce noise into your signal, making it difficult to process.
Finally, at this stage you will also be concerned with the issue of lighting the subject. If you are indoors, you should use special steady lighting to make sure that the subject, the presenter in your case, is sufficiently illuminated to get the best possible result in the video.
Stage 3: Post-production
Το στάδιο αυτό αναφέρεται στις διαδικασίες επεξεργασίας του υλικού που έχει καταγραφεί όπως το video από την κάμερα, video από το λογισμικό καταγραφής της οθόνης, ήχος αλλά και τυχόν εξωτερικού υλικού που θέλετε να εισαχθεί στο τελικό προϊόν της επεξεργασίας, όπως για παράδειγμα διαφάνειες από Powerpoint.
At this stage you can use a variety of programs starting from low or zero acquisition costs to quite large costs, when it comes to professional solutions. Good solutions with average cost are the softwares mentioned in the production section when we discussed screen capture, namely Camtasia and ScreenFlow. Their operation is simple and you can achieve great results by using these programs.
If you want to edit audio files, a good and free software is Audacity through which you can very easily perform various audio editing actions such as removing noise, increasing the volume of the recording and cutting off problem areas.
The basic step in this stage is the synchronization of image, sound and external material (images, PowerPoint, etc.). Also, if you have used the GreenScreen technique to remove the background, this is the stage that the green background should be removed and the new desired one should be added to your videos.
Stage 4: Distribution of MOOC to the general public (Delivery)
Once the process of creating the Videos that will constitute your MOOC is completed and you have gathered the accompanying material of the various sections that will be contained in it, you have to decide which platform to use to host your MOOC so that all those interested to watch it can have access to it.
A MOOC is not just a video you uploaded to a YouTube channel or a platform that only supports video streaming. A MOOC is accompanied by a variety of activities and should support multiple ways of representing the information you provide to the learners.
The platform used by Letstudy is the Open Edx platform, the most widely used MOOC management platform. The platform supports the creation and distribution of content based on multiple representations.
- Video Upload
- Text Creation
- HTML code paste
- Jupyter Notebook (for lessons using Jupyter) upload
- Discussion Creation so that learners can discuss within any page of the lesson
- Uploading of your own files (powerpoint, word, pdf, images etc)
- Creation and entrance of various Quizzes that contain a combination of questions with checkboxes, dropdown, multiple choices, numerical and text answer fields, drag and drop, math expression and more advanced fields where the user can even write Python code. In each type of exercise, you can include feedback that the user will receive in cases of correct or incorrect answers.
- Exercise / Task activity creation in which the learner is asked to deliver something to the teacher for grading
- Construction of peer review activities in which the trainee himself is asked to correct the project delivered by another trainee
- Forum through which there can be communication with other trainees, the teacher and the course assistants
- Gradebook where the trainees can see their grades in the various activities of the course
- Certificate of attendance issuance, which also includes defining the criteria for its issuance
The process of developing a MOOC is not just a simple recording of a series of videos. As you can see, there are several steps you should take into consideration in order to begin the process of creating a complete MOOC. Of course, if you follow the steps we have mentioned, you will be able to have your own MOOC in a short period of time, which will enable you to gain educational experience and integrate it into your professional toolbox, as well as significantly increase your income.