Being connected changes learning. When those connections are global, the experience of knowledge development is dramatically altered as well. Over the past four years, a growing number of educators have started experimenting with the teaching and learning process in order to answer critical questions: “How does learning change when formal boundaries are reduced? What is the future of learning? What role with educators play in this future? What types of institutions does society need to respond to hyper-growth of knowledge and rapid dissemination of information? How do the roles of learners and educators change when knowledge is ubiquitous?”
Experimenting with answers to these questions has produced what is now called “massive open online courses” or MOOCs. Three of us – George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and Dave Cormier – have had over 10,000 participants in the various courses we’ve run since 2008. The learning experience has been terrific. We’ve refined our pedagogical approaches, improved the software (well, actually, just Stephen did that), and developed a research agenda around learning in networks in open online courses.