As MOOCs began to proliferate it was clear that services would emerge which would make it easier to find those of interest to potential learners. MOOC providers are now making data about their courses available through RSS feeds and APIs so it’s possible to harvest those and develop tools to allow people to find and review courses more easily.
But what if you want to build in MOOC study as part of your professional development? You might need your manager to allow you to take time off or your company to pay for the certification.
Last week I met with two brothers from South Africa, now based in London, who are developing a system to enable just that: Michael and Greg Howe from GroupMOOC. I was acting as a mentor for the Open Education Challenge – a European incubation programme offering mentoring, coaching and investment to some of the most innovative education start-ups worldwide.
I’ve found that some of the most inspiring developments in educational technology come from small, young companies. The Start-up Alley at Educause for example is for me the most fascinating aspect of that conference. Back in London at the Open Education Challenge I was fortunate to meet with a range of enthusiastic entrepreneurs who’d given up secure jobs to pursue their business ideas.
GroupMOOC enables you to search for MOOCs you’re interested in, read reviews and plan your workload, exporting key events and deadlines to your calendar – particularly useful if you’re studying more than one at once. You can also create groups of friends and colleagues to share your experiences with. The product helps HR directors to develop an overview of what MOOCs their staff are doing and builds in workflow enabling managers to authorise time off (the default setting is “100% in your own time!”) or agree to pay for the final certificate.
GroupMOOC is well-designed and useful. Whatever MOOCs evolve into in the future, there will certainly remain a massive and growing market for “massive” and not-so-massive online education – and a need for tools which help organise the complexity of thousands of courses from multiple providers. Greg and Michael’s next challenge is to convince a panel of investors to provide funding to further expand the product’s functionality. They’ve made a great start.