The Course Networking : our learning platform

MOOC Dys chooses The CN for its online training

MOOC Dys has selected The Course Networking to host its free and open training for all on learning disabilities. The Course Networking is a global solution that focuses on social learning and active exchanges between participants.

The Course Networking : a comprehensive and social online learning platform

Logo of the CN - partner and sponsor of the MOOC Dys - White letters C and N, in a navy blue circle included in a paler blue circle
The CN Official Logo

The MOOC Dys is a participative, collaborative and social MOOC. To meet these pedagogical and social goals, we require a tool that adhere certain criteria :

  • a complete environment that allows participants to engage in intensive exchanges using simple tools to use
  • the opportunity for participants to create and share their own resources: testimonials, tips and tricks, strategies to help dys children at school or home, etc.
The Course Networking with its comprehensive social features seems to be an ideal tool to meet this challenge.

The Course Networking : a social learning network

All MOOC creators will advise you that social learning is a paramount importance.
The participants should be able to talk to each other, comment on each other’s activities, engage in a dialogue about the subject matter to be studied, talk about their experiences in real life, etc. Everything that anchors new learning in the real world is beneficial for both the understanding and retaining new notions.
Social learning is part of this dynamic. Nevertheless, traditional LMSs (online learning platforms) are not fashioned for these exchanges. In general, they are recalled as interfaces between trainers and learners. With some features like chat, forums, etc. to try to encourage participants to … participate !
Often, MOOC organizers use external social networks (Facebook, Twitter or Google+, for example) to facilitate the training and attempt to engage the participants in more exchanges.
The Course Networking is totally different : it is a true virtual learning environment, based on a social learning network. A network similar to LinkedIn.

The news feed : the central place of exchange

And as in LinkedIn, The Course Networking (or The CN,  in its abridged version) offers a news feed in the centre of the page (marker N ° 1):
General view of the course networking with the timeline, the course menu and the calendar
The general view of the Course Networking
On the left side of the page, you will see the different courses you are registered in (marker N ° 2) and on the right of the screen, a calendar appears with various upcoming events. These events can be online (such as a virtual classroom or assignment) or off-line (for example, an invitation to an official meeting or a drink with other participants from the same region).
Posts : an effective alternative to forums and threads
Instead of giving access to a forum (internal or external) or a thread, The CN allows each participant to publish a post, just the same as on Facebook or LinkedIn, with a sense of security.  Just click on the “Post” button at the top of the screen to start writing.
Screenshot of how to publish a post in the Course Networking, the online learning solution selected by the MOOC Dys
Publishing a Post in the CN
Writing a post in The Course Networking is as easy as posting a status on Facebook : just click on the “Post” link at the top left, enter a title, the post text. Then, you are able to easily add :
  • an image from the web or your computer
  • a file from your computer or your Google Drive account
  • a YouTube video (simply inserting your address)
  • a link to a website
  • or a file in SCORM format (a standard exchange format for e-learning platforms)

The other participants can later comment on your publication and / or add one to three stars to visualize their appreciation.

The Course Networking : a friendly LMS

The  Course Networking is also an LMS or Learning Management System: an online course management system.
The courses are integrated into the social learning network. Just click on the name of a course in the left menu or on the link “Courses” at the top of the screen to access the courses where you are registered.
Screenshot of the Course Networking LMS chosen by the MOOC Dys team for its free and open online course
The Course Networking LMS
When you are in class, the menu on the left shows the different modules that increase in stages: in this case, each module corresponds to a week’s progress, as in the MOOC Dys (marker N ° 1).   The content of each course module appears in the center of the page (marker N ° 2) while, at the top of this content, there is a menu with the post, the poll, the event or the e-mail (marker No. 3).  This means you can utilise all these elements without leaving the course.

The Course Networking : an ePortfolio your entire life

Another extremely interesting feature of The Course Networking is its « ePortfolio ».
A portfolio is a place where artists or designers collect samples of their production to showcase their expertise. Europe is increasingly encouraging academic institutions and training centers to offer e-portfolios to learners.
Considering that it’s a great way to create a document which accompanies you and shows your success – academically or professionally – throughout your life.
The Course Networking ePortfolio looks very much like a LinkedIn page: it presents a profile photo and identifying elements as well as some sections which are common to all learners :
Screenshot of the lifelong learning ePortfolio from the Course Networking for the MOOC Dys
The Course Networking ePortfolio
Firstly, some elements of identification. Then, the person’s skills: these skills allow potential employers to “find” the portfolios of people whose profile is catching their eyes.
Other sections show the badges and certificates obtained during training or through their professional experience.
All these sections can be moved, displayed or hidden at the discretion of the user.
The ePortfolio is a complete electronic document that you keep throughout your life: it is yours and you can continue to feed your information as you evolve in your career and learning.  It fully matches the European demands of a lifelong learning policy.
More details to come on this document in a more complete article later.

The Course Networking : a « gamified » platform

Finally, The Course Networking is entirely a “gamified”  online learning platform : Hence, it uses certain elements borrowed from the game world.
Gamification will be explained in details and how it can be used to engage learners in this article.
In The Course Networking, any chosen activity earns points. These points are collected and allow you to surpass different levels:
  • money : 500 points
  • gold : 1.000 points
  • diamond : 2.500 points
These points are defined by the course designer : they can focus on certain activities, such as writing or commenting on posts, to encourage exchanges between participants. It can set certain daily and weekly limits.
The learning platform also includes a set of badges : these are automatically delivered partly by the system, such as the badge of the best post of the week, for example. Others are delivered by the trainer or the teacher : the critical thinker or creative thinker, for instance.
These points are also a benchmark to help the learner to identify his/her position in the group: is it average, below or above? In any case, he or she can adapt his or her behaviour as not to be late or too early in participating.
This part of The Course Networking will also be thoroughly discussed in an upcoming article.

The Course Networking : an online platform dedicated to social learning

As you can see, The Course Networking is a platform that focuses mainly on social learning and exchanges between participants.
It is an environment that also gives learners a lot of autonomy since they can freely publish posts, comments, polls. They can organise online and offline events throughout the training. They can also communicate with each other and trainers via e-mail, chat or launch a virtual class from the course.
As part of the MOOC Dys, we wanted a platform that maximizes the exchange between participants, whether parents or teachers with dys children or simply common people who are interested in learning disorders.
We wanted them to be able to express themselves, to simply post their stories, their own resources on everyday life or school life when dealing with dys disorders.
We strongly believe that we have chosen the Course Networking as the right tool corresponding to the active teaching methods that we highly recommend.

Purdue University, Sponsor and Associate Partner of MOOC Dys

Professor Ali Jafari from Purdue University in Indianapolis, USA,  created the online learning environment The Course Networking.
During the exchanges we had, he showed extreme interest in the MOOC Dys project. From that day onward, Purdue University is considered as one of the associated partners of MOOC Dys.
The University supports us on our initiative : it advises us on the use of the platform, invites us to participate in development meetings so that the tool we apply coincides precisely to the needs of the MOOC.
A special interview with Professor Ali Jafari on the motivations that led Purdue University to join the MOOC Dys partners will be mentioned in a comig article.
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