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In this blog post, we look at the two main types of open learning courses. Many organisations use their Learning Management System (LMS) to provide courses internally. However, you may wish to make your courses publicly available in what we call an ‘open learning’ environment. 

The internet has democratised learning like no other form of technology. Today, learners from all over the world can educate themselves and each other through a huge variety of online courses available to them. Some courses require investment, others are free. 

Moodle is a great platform for open learning providers as it is safe, reliable and easy to manage large numbers of users. 

MOOCs

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are designed to be consumed by the masses. They tend to get high enrolment rates because they are free and often created by renowned education institutions, including prestigious universities like Harvard and Oxford. 

Some MOOCs offer additional services, such as tutor assessment, for a fee. However, users can learn a great deal simply by enrolling onto the course. 

MOOCs are largely made up of video and written content. Some MOOC creators provide forums for users to discuss their learning, share ideas and interact with tutors. 

MOOCs can be an attractive proposition for learners, particularly those on a tight budget. The best MOOCs offer high quality content and the opportunity to learn about some fascinating topics. However, few students tend to complete the courses. Perhaps this is because there is no perceived value to the courses, so they are less committed. 

You may be asking what the incentive is for providers, since creating MOOCs can be a time-consuming and costly process. What’s the point if you’re not making money? 

Well, MOOCs are a great way to showcase your learning content. If learners have a good experience, they may then sign up for paid content, so it works well as a lead magnet. And more people sign up for free content, so you’ll quickly get exposure, providing you market your MOOCs effectively.

Open and Distance Learning (ODL)

Distance learning has been around for decades, but the Internet has increased its reach substantially. 

ODL (sometimes referred to as Online Distance Learning or Open and Distance Learning) tends to be long-term in nature, with a mix of self-directed learning, and tutor / peer interaction. Most of this takes place online but some of the course can be delivered face-to-face.

The first recorded distanced open learning course was advertised in 1728!

The Open University in the United Kingdom, has followed this concept successfully for over 50 years, allowing working people to study for a degree or other qualification on a part-time basis. This is particularly helpful for students working in remote areas. 

ODL courses work well for education institutions. Indeed, during the pandemic, most full-time courses essentially followed the ODL model. It can work well in industry, too, particularly if you offer professional training for sector-specific skills.

If you open up your LMS to others outside your organisation, you may attract key industry players which can enhance your reach and reputation. 

Remember, however, that making your courses available to the outside world requires more management than if you keep it in-house. Nonetheless, if you want to widen your market or simply enhance your company’s image, then you should seriously consider open learning as an option. 

Pukunui can advise on how to use the Moodle LMS for open learning. Contact us to discuss the options. 

Vinny Stocker


Vinny leads the Malaysian team. He's a published author, instructional designer, and Moodle consultant at Pukunui. Vinny also runs LMS training throughout South East Asia.

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