What’s a MOOC?!

A MOOC is a Massive Online Open Course. The basic idea is that various institutes of learning will allow people to essentially audit courses for free, or even to pay a fee to gain various types of credit, from certificates, which have limited use, to actual college credit. Details vary according to who is offering the course, but the learner is the one who decides if they wish to learn simply for curiosity and the love of learning (most common) or if they want to earn some sort of certificate or some other validation of the time spent learning (less common).

There are several websites that specialize in hooking people up with such courses, with just a few being coursera.org, udemy.com and edx.org. You can find out so much about these courses and how they work at various sites around the web, but Forbes posted a good summary recently about the future of MOOCs. Additionally, you may find the following illustration helpful in understanding how an MOOC works:

MOOC_poster_mathplourde

Basically this illustration asks several questions pointing out that the concept remains in the evolutionary stages despite being a web presence for quite some time. So, when you go to various outlets to experience an MOOC you won’t necessarily find the same experience as any other site. Some learners find this exciting, some frustrating. The MOOC doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, so, let’s look at how one in particular works.

I signed up for a course on coursera.org:

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As I became a registered, free user I was given limited access to class materials: I can follow along, complete readings and assignments but cannot take tests or quizzes or receive any sort of grade. To gain these features I would need to pay a fee to participate officially in Berklee College of Music courses. The fact that I have that option demonstrates one of the advantages of an MOOC–choice.

So, here’s just one example of what I can get for free: a video lecture from the teacher:

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As I progress through the course I will share the progress and, when the course is complete, I will give my opinion on how helpful (or not) I felt the course was.

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Creative Commons

http://creativecommons.org/

Want to see if a work is in the public domain? Is there something on the Internet that you would like to use yourself? The Creative Commons website is a great place to find out if you are able to use a picture, piece of music, or other source materials. Just go to the Creative Commons website and in the Explore Box click on “Find CC-Licensed Works”. In the top right corner is a google search like box. Just type in what you are looking for. Underneath the search box is a listing of different websites you can search. Click which website you would like to search in. For example,  if you type in bouvier des flandres, then click the Flicker website, lots of pictures of the dogs will come up. Click on one of the pictures. Underneath it will tell you the rights to the pictures and whether it is able to be used.  This can also be done in other picture websites, for other media, and music websites as well.

Radio Search Engine

http://radiosearchengine.com/

Radio Search Engine is a new website that is a radio search engine for songs, artists, shows, and stations all over the world. From the site, “Search for your favorite artist and listen to their music. If it’s not playing right now, you’ll find stations that will likely play it which will lead to other music and stations you’re sure to enjoy.”

The website home page starts by listing the FM and AM radio stations in your area. Each station lists what it is playing or if it is on a station break. The site also has a google-like search box at the top of the page. Put in the song, artist, show, or station you are looking for. A search for “Michael Jackson”, brought up multiple stations playing his songs around the nation. Click on the song you want to hear and it will bring up other songs you may like to listen to as well. Multiple talk shows and even old radio shows like “American Top 40” can be found as well.

Internet Archive

http://archive.org/

The Internet Archive website provides free full access to out of copyright materials. Government documents, books, audios, moving images, and a music archive are all available to be viewed.  The content on the site is provided by any person or institution who would like their materials preserved.

On the site, the Wayback Machine is a place where old internet websites can be viewed and digital content can be saved. Over 150 billion pages are provided.

The Moving Images library has over 500,000 free movies, films, and videos. Educational and community videos are included.

The Live Music library provides over 100,000 items from over 5,000 bands. Live concerts that are strictly non-commercial are listed.

The audio archive and MP3 library lists over two hundred thousand free digital recordings, from concerts to news programs to book readings. Many of the audios are available for download.

The E-books and texts archive has over 3,000,000 fiction, popular books, children’s books, historical texts and academic books. Many use the Creative Commons licenses. Some international collections are also included.

These and many other libraries are listed on the website.

Freesound

http://www.freesound.org/

Freesound is a database of 120,000 sounds, not songs. The sounds can include anything from a pipe banging against the wall to water dripping. Many of the sounds have been used in movies and in ccMixter remixes. Keywords and “sounds-like” type of browsing  are available for searching. From the site, “Freesound is a collaborative database of Creative Commons Licensed sounds. Browse, download and share sounds.”

Colleges of Memphis

http://collegesofmemphis.org/

The colleges of Memphis website connects over thirteen universities and colleges that are in the Memphis area.  From this website, you will find directories to student life, on-campus housing, venues the city has to offer, and college admissions.  There is also an insider’s guide with links to all things Memphis such as places to eat, cultural offerings, and local current news.  The purpose of collegesofmemphis.org is to promote Memphis to prospective students.