Hello Old Friend

an_error_occurred

Why, hello there old friend! It’s been a while has it not?

I’m working with an academic on developing a course which she wants to deliver as a MOOC and part of my role has been to find the right platform for her. We can’t easily do anything in the University’s VLE, and Sunderland has not yet partnered with any of the big MOOC providers such as FutureLearn, so I have been investigating two free options, OpenClass from Pearson and CourseSites from Blackboard.

OpenClass has the advantage of being from the same codebase as LearningStudio making it easy for our academics to use and it should provide a pretty smooth transition for students who complete the MOOC and go on to enrol on the next level at the University (the proposed model). OpenClass, however, is no longer under active development by Pearson and so it’s future is shaky.

CourseSites is provided by Blackboard on a similar model. It is freely available for anyone to use and they can have up to five courses running simultaneously with unlimited numbers of students. This is not an exaggeration: in less than a minute of setting up my account on CourseSites I hit this error! I suspect it was just a case of things taking a little while to be created in the background, but it made me laugh as my life at Northumbria was plagued by such errors. I haven’t seen one in nearly a year and within a minute of using Blackboard again I got one straight off the bat.

On a serious note though, it does go to show that all platforms have their problems and idiosyncrasies, and that there is no perfect solution. Easy to forget that sometimes.

UPDATE: I never even had time to post this before learning that Blackboard are in the process of migrating CourseSites to their new MOOC platform, Open Education. I haven’t signed up to this one yet as it would appear to be a little more formal and I would need to sign up the University as an institutional partner, something I need to run up the flagpole first. I can’t see it being much different though, Blackboard is Blackboard, and CourseSites will serve in the interim to start development.