MOOCs from the Open University of Israel

The Open University of Israel (OUI) developed four MOOCs as a part of the OpenUpEd initiative of the EADTU. As of early November, two MOOCs have opened, and you can still register until the second half of November. Next, The Modern Middle-East will start on November 21 in Hebrew, and a MOOC on Genocide on March 6, 2014, in English. Close to 2,000 already registered for these two MOOCs.

One of the unique aspects of the OUI's MOOCs is the diversity of languages: each of the MOOCs is in a different language: Hebrew, Arabic, English and Russian. Another added value is that each MOOC participant is given free access to the full text of online textbooks that were developed by Israel's leading academics, and translated into the relevant languages. The textbooks are specifically designed for self study.

One of the MOOC that is already active is in Arabic: Educational Psychology. About 170 registered for the MOOC, and about 100 were active in the first week. The course is relatively small for a MOOC, but most importantly the course participants are active and engaged. This is especially exciting given that the participants come not only from Israel, but also from countries such as Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan, some of which do not have diplomatic relationships with Israel. The more popular threads in the first week dealt with Maslow's pyramid of needs, and its applicability across different populations and groups.

Another MOOC which is already active is in Russian and it focuses on the history of Jews and Christians in Western Europe during the middle-Ages and Renaissance. About 300 registered for the MOOC, and close to 200 were active in the first week. About one half of the participants in the course are Russian speakers who reside in Israel, a large percentage of the rest are from Russia and Ukraine, and the other participants are from a diversity of countries including Bulgaria, Belarus, Germany, France, UK, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, and the US. The participants are very active in the discussion threads. For example, in the first week participants of various religious backgrounds posted close to 100 messages in a discussion of what constitutes evidence for the existence of Jesus as a historical figure. They discussed topics such as the weight of various Christian and Jewish texts that mention Jesus, and the importance of archeological evidence. Diverse opinions were expressed and discussed in an atmosphere of mutual respect and pluralism.

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