From OCW to MOOC: Deployment of OERs in a Massive Open

Open Praxis, vol. 6 issue 2, April–June 2014, pp. 145–158 (ISSN 2304-070X)
2014 OCWC Global Conference Selected Papers
From OCW to MOOC: Deployment of OERs in
a Massive Open Online Course.
The Experience of Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M)
José Vida Fernández & Susan Webster
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (Spain)
[email protected] & [email protected]
The emergence of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is focusing all its attention on open education.
There is growing interest in creating MOOCs, which can be done by transferring OCW courses to MOOC
format. However, a series of doubts arise regarding the pros and cons implied in this transformation. In this
paper we discuss the conclusions derived from our experience at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid with a
widely disseminated OCW course that was satisfactorily converted into a MOOC. This experience has allowed
us to compare two different models of open education initially based on the same content. We also analyze
the difficulties incurred in the transformation process and present strategies to successfully carry out this
Keywords: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC); MOOC Design; OpenCourseWare (OCW); Open
Education; Open Educational Resources (OERs)
Higher education is being transformed all around the world due to open online access (Cooperman,
2014). However, this change process is not uniform, rather it depends on the context in which it
takes place.
In the case of Europe the advent of open educational resources is determined by two factors.
First, the application of information technologies to educational processes stands out among the
various forces driving this trend. Second, the change in the teaching and learning methodology
in the development of the European Higher Education Area (the so called Bologna Process) that
implies a more practical approach to education (Adelman, 2009). The combination of these two
factors has given rise to a proliferation of digital teaching materials (texts, cases, slides, videos,
podcasts and so on) created by the teachers themselves for their own pupils who traditionally only
had access to on-campus classes and references to textbooks in paper format as study elements.
This multiplication of teaching materials in digital format has coincided with the emergence of
open education, and has thus encouraged a large number of teachers to disseminate their work
that was originally intended to be used by their pupils in a closed environment. These teaching
materials can be disseminated by simply publishing the documents in digital format (open archive),
or organizing them in course format to foster self learning (OpenCourseWare). These prior experiences have lead to the creation of specific courses to be developed online with audiovisual and
interactive elements that guide the students in the learning process (MOOC).
The various modalities described above correspond to a certain extent with the different stages
in the evolution of open education initiatives (Falconer et al., 2013). They all stem from university
courses but at the same time they differ, to a slighter or larger degree, depending on how they
adapt to the real format of a university course and the implications implied therein for the teacher
Reception date: 17 February 2014 • Acceptance date: 11 April 2014
José Vida Fernández and Susan Webster
and the educational institution. On the one hand, from the social aspect this is a way of allowing
access to a university education for those who cannot afford it (Marshall, 2013) and, at the same
time, gives both the institution and the quality of the teacher’s work greater visibility (Matkin, 2013).
On the other hand, this implies an additional workload for the teacher and the institution, which may
not always have a positive impact on the learning process for both current and potential future
students (Mackness; Mak & Williams, 2010).
Thus, the choice of teaching mode and the specific platform for developing open education
activities is extremely important for both the teacher participating in such activities and the institution
that sponsors them. In this sense, it is paramount to be aware of the real implications of each mode
of open education and consider possible strategies that can be developed when joining an Open
Access movement that is unstoppable in the higher education sector.
The aim of this work it to offer professors and university institutions information and reflections
derived from the experience obtained by a group of professors at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
(UC3M) in using different modes of open education. This experience is particularly interesting since
it addresses one of the first courses in Spain adapted to the Bologna Process offered on the OCW
site ( that was later converted into one of the first Spanish MOOCs. It provides
a comparative analysis of the two main forms of open education and likewise studies the transformation process showing the difficulties incurred in the development process and the benefits derived
from this change. The results of this experience can help other teachers and institutions when
deciding on which open education model to develop and also help those responsible for designing
open access policies and platforms to improve their own projects.
The content of this article covers, first of all, the context in which the experience was developed,
analyzed from the standpoint of open educational policies and resources at UC3M. It then refers
to the initial situation, i.e. the courses developed in the framework of the OCW Project at UC3M,
and then goes on to analyze the transformation from OCW to MOOC, and finally analyzes the
results of the UC3M MOOC.
The Context: Open Educational Resources and Policies at the Institution (UC3M’s
OER policy)
When considering any serious analysis of open education it is important to take into account the
context in which it takes place. Creating OERs is not an isolated action undertaken by a professor
rather it stems from the strategy of the academic institution that is going to define its characteristics
and scope (Kennedy et al., 2009).
For this reason it is important to consider the open education policies and resources available
at the institution that is contemplating this open education initiative. As regards open education
policies, they determine that professors can project their teaching activities in an open and online
format, whether they are on-campus courses or new courses designed specifically for that purpose.
A suitable political strategy that encourages open education initiatives (by reducing teaching hours,
recognizing merits, etc.) will foster the advent of a greater variety of courses and of better quality.
Regarding the human and material resources that are available at the institution to support faculty,
they will define the format of the courses, as well as the variety, sophistication and quality of the
educational resources they incorporate.
In the case of UC3M the fundamental guidelines of open education are part of its philosophy:
sharing, reducing barriers and increasing access to education. The development of open education
activities at UC3M has been determined by two circumstances that have fostered the creation of
open courses. Firstly, the broad experience of its teachers for more than a decade in the use of
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information technologies thanks to the university’s Virtual Learning Environment (Aula Global) that
has encouraged faculty to digitize their teaching materials and put them online for their students.
Secondly, the change in the teaching and learning methodology brought about by the new programs
designed according to the criteria of the Bologna Process to adapt them to the European Higher
Education Area. UC3M was one of the first universities to adhere to the Bologna Process, so since
2008 a more practical approach to teaching based on continuous formative assessment has become
widespread, which has lead teachers to create their own teaching materials.
This favorable context has allowed UC3M to successfully develop its open education policies.
OpenCourseWare was the first open educational resources initiative to be set up at the University.
The University joined the OCW movement in 2006, when it reached Spain under the auspices of
Universia. This project has helped to foster open publishing culture among professors and has been
a catalyst for other OER initiatives. UC3M currently offers 209 courses in the fields of Engineering,
Humanities and Law and Social Sciences and has won several awards of excellence, for the
quality of its OCW courses, from Universia and the OpenCourseWare Consortium.
In 2007 UC3M launched another initiative that indirectly favors open education, that is E-Archivo
(, the university’s Open Archive. Its aims are to collect, store and preserve
the intellectual production resulting from the academic and research activities of the university
community, in digital format, and offer open access to these works. The collection includes doctoral
theses, periodicals edited by UC3M, working papers, preprints, articles, conference proceedings,
reports, etc.
In 2012 UC3M set up two important working groups to establish a stable and coordinated basis
for furthering the creation, use, dissemination and preservation of OERs and supporting instructors
in the process (Malo de Molina, 2013).
MaREA. This is a multidisciplinary working group composed of professors who are specialists
in Intellectual Property Rights, Open Access and OERs and interactive technologies; as well
as members of the Library and Communications and Computing Services. Its aim is to define
policies and strategies for creating, managing and disseminating quality educational resources.
UTEID (Unit for Educational Technology and Innovative Teaching). This is a unit that is integrated in the Library Service with support from the Communications and Computing Service
and the Undergraduate Management and Academic Support Service, to a) support faculty in
creating educational resources, using new educational technology, and protecting, preserving
and disseminating these resources; b) evaluate platforms and tools for course design, content
creation and student evaluation. It supports teachers participating in projects such as Khan
Academy Zero Courses, MOOC-UC3M and MOOC-Universia. The UTEID website can be
found at:
In 2013 the first UC3M MOOCs were launched on the MiriadaX platform (
promoted by Telefónica Learning Services and the Universia Foundation, that encompasses the
majority of Spanish and Latin American universities. Finally, in 2014 UC3M joined the MIT-Harvard’s
edX platform and plans to initially launch four MOOCs. Currently, all the university’s open education
initiatives (OpenCourseWare, MiriadaX, Khan Academy Zero Courses, YouTube Edu, iTunes U) are
gathered on the “UC3M Digital” web site (
As can be seen, UC3M is really committed with open education which it fosters by way of specific
measures that encourage professors to offer their courses in an open format. Faculty participation
in these kinds of initiatives is recognized as teaching merit that has academic and economic
repercussions. Also the teachers have the support of the UTEID to advise them regarding the course
design and delivery with the latest generation audiovisual and computer technologies.
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José Vida Fernández and Susan Webster
This context explains why UC3M has been a pioneer in the development of OERs in Spain
and is a conditioning factor for the evolution to new formats of open education, encouraging the
transformation of OCW courses to MOOCs.
The Starting Point: Launching OpenCourseWare (UC3M-OCW Project)
The traditional starting point in open education so far has been OpenCourseWare. OCW courses
have the advantage of allowing teachers to develop open educational experiences without too much
effort as long as they have a course for which they have developed their own teaching materials.
OCW courses are in effect repositories of teaching materials that teachers use in their on-campus
courses and have undergone certain adaptations. This means that the teaching and learning is
based on the student’s self learning process. The student has all the instructions and teaching
materials at his/her disposal to follow the course, but s/he has to do so by him/herself since no
guided learning is entailed. Furthermore, in OCW courses students have no contact with the teacher
which means that they have to access knowledge on their own without being able to ask questions
or request further explanations. Although the courses have practice materials and other learning
activities they are not interactive so it is the responsibility of the student to do them properly.
Overall, the students undergo a self assessment process that provides no means of recognition or
accreditation of the knowledge they have acquired.
These characteristics explain why OCW courses have a limited teaching capacity and, in general,
have been used as complementary tools in open education. From our experience we have found
that students do not tend to follow a full OCW course on their own but rather use the materials as
if they were textbooks to broaden and deepen their knowledge of certain aspects, either because
they are enrolled on a similar course or because they are interested in the topic.
Regarding the course design and preparation, the majority of OCW courses are not prepared
from scratch for that purpose, instead they are a digital version of an on-campus course that has
been slightly adapted. This has the advantage of offering access, although partially, by way of
these materials to the real and unadulterated teaching that is carried out at the most prestigious
universities in the world.
OCW content is in fact very diverse and can be classified in study materials (texts and audio­
visuals), practice materials and assessments. Most OCW courses include limited text materials
that in general cannot be accessed directly, instead they offer limited readings or bibliographical
references that the students have to acquire of their own accord. Sometimes they include articles
and other documents as elements for analysis, but the textbook in digital format on which the classes
are based is not normally included. As for audiovisual materials, these are usually slides that
constitute the basis of the study texts.
With regard to the practice materials these tend to be more abundant and include approaches to
problems and case studies (with or without solutions), as well as guides for developing laboratory
tests and exercises. The assessment materials tend to be more limited as they usually include
previous years’ final exam questions and, on occasions, tests and partial exams prepared for each
lesson. Finally, there is no monitoring or follow-up of OCW courses on behalf of the professor who
limits him/herself to publishing and providing open access to his/her materials online.
Regarding the UC3M experience, in 2007 a group of professors of the Public Law Department
initiated a series of OCW courses with very specific characteristics, due to their orientation, design
and subject area (Administrative Law), which should be taken into account during the analysis stage.
These are four courses on Administrative Law that are reviewed and updated on a yearly basis and
new content is added.
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Firstly, since these courses focus on a subject that applies to a local domain, as is the case of
Administrative Law, their international scope is limited. Furthermore, it is a subject based on specific
language, which makes it difficult to translate into other languages. Thus, the potential students for
these courses are Spaniards or Latin Americans from countries that share the same legal tradition
as well as the language.
Secondly, due to the nature of a subject such as Law, which is a conceptual-intellectual creation,
it is taught by studying and reflecting on texts (regulations, decisions and doctrine). This limits
the teaching resources that can be used as in the case of visual presentations or videos that do
not consist in a presentation by the teacher, and it is not possible to teach through laboratory
In spite of these difficulties, four courses that correspond to the core subjects of the Bachelor’s
Degree in Law were developed and are currently available at
Basics of Administrative Law
Administrative Organization and Process
Public Procurement, Public Personnel Administration and Public Property Law
Administrative Action on Main Economic Areas.
The materials of these courses are composed of readings (20–40 pages), case problems,
multiple-choice tests for each lesson (there are 45 lessons in total), as well as overall evaluation
activities (final exams). The result of the teachers’ work is an astonishing amount of materials: about
1,500 pages of original text, which equate to four open online textbooks (one for each course).1
In fact publishers have approached the teachers, but they have preferred to stay in the OCW
movement keeping their content open and free for all.
The courses receive an average of 2,000 visits each per month, of which 90% are from Spain
and the rest from Latin American countries (Argentina, Chile, Peru and Colombia). Although it is
difficult to know the profile of these visitors and how they use the course materials, we can reach
some conclusions from the pattern of the visits and the keywords they use to find the courses. The
materials are mostly used by UC3M students as a textbook for the corresponding on-campus
subject, although they may be taught by different teachers. It is possible that they are also used
as supplementary materials by students from other universities. Other frequent users are people
preparing for competitive exams to join the Civil Service, who mostly use the tests and practical
case studies. Regards the rest, the text readings are usually used for consultation purposes by
other professors and lawyers in general, as they tend to appear among the top results of search
engines when doing a technical search in legal matters.
These UC3M-OCW courses make a difference with regard to the rest of OCW courses, mostly
for their extensive online content. To a certain extent, in their approach and design they have tried
to overcome the limitations of the majority of OCW courses. On the one hand, they are “fully open”
compared to the rest that only provide supplementary teaching materials (slides, assignments,
exams) and refer the user to bibliography that does not have open access. These courses, on the
contrary, offer online and open access to all the teaching materials necessary to study the subject,
which is the only way for open education to be effective.
On the other hand, these courses offer a “real and up-to-date education” since the volume of
content of the original text, that contains in-depth and updated analysis of legal affairs allows student
to receive a complete legal education, and converts them into reference works not only for students
but also for law practitioners. In fact, the courses go beyond education into research and it is
possible to find references to these materials in hard-copy published textbooks and also reports
and studies of various kinds.
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Figure 1: OCW course: Instituciones Básicas del Derecho Administrativo
The Transit: From OCW to MOOC
Both OCW courses and MOOCs have common elements which we can consider in order to set up
a comparison, as can be seen in Table 1: OCW-MOOC Comparison.
Converting an OCW course into a MOOC constitutes a natural evolution in open education. The
design, planning and delivery of a MOOC in undoubtedly easier when it is based on an OCW course,
not only for the experience acquired but also, above all, for the materials that have been developed.
However, the transition is not simple and before tackling it certain factors concerning the significance and the relationship of OCW courses and MOOCs in open education have to be taken into
Firstly, MOOCs are not improved versions of OCW courses that have come to take their place.
They both constitute different tools that have their own advantages and limitations. In general they
can coexist and be offered simultaneously as their target audiences are seeking a different kind of
education in both cases.
Secondly, MOOCs can benefit from all the teaching materials prepared for OCW courses, but
these are not enough. In particular the transit to a MOOC demands preparation of additional audiovisual materials (video lectures) as well as interactive components (online tests, practice materials
for peer review).
Thirdly, MOOCs are dynamic since they are delivered in a specific time period and are interactive
to the extent that they require a certain degree of intervention on behalf of the teacher. This is the
element that really distinguishes them from other open education models, among others (North,
Richardson & North, 2014, p. 70). This requires designing a program and a schedule for the course
delivery that has to be adhered to as well as encouraging student participation in the forum and
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Table 1: OCW—MOOC Comparison
and content
Differentiating elements
Self discipline: Self guided
learning, no contact with teacher,
no interaction, no assessment nor
Hetero-discipline: Guided learning,
contact with teacher, interaction,
assessment and certification.
Preparation and design
Minimal. Adaptation of class
teaching materials.
Demanding. Specific course design
is required.
Text materials
Necessary. Bibliographical
references at least.
Necessary. Although audiovisual
materials acquire greater importance.
Audiovisual materials
Recommendable. Usually in the
form of slides.
Necessary. Video lectures, as well
as slides.
Necessary. Although no correction
system is required.
Necessary. They should be programmed and allow for feedback.
Necessary. Although no correction
system is required.
Necessary. On concluding the
course and should guarantee
quality and originality control.
Student monitoring
Necessary. Supervision of each
stage to allow for adjustments.
Necessary. Assessments (test,
peer review) as well as tutoring by
way of forum and blogs.
All these factors should be carefully considered by the professor since the transit from an OCW
course to a MOOC can affect his/her academic work considerably. In particular s/he should take
into account the time available for preparing and developing the MOOC, the impact it will have on
his/her OCW course and, above all, on his/her on-campus courses, since the students may have
less incentives for attending classes.
As far as the UC3M experience is concerned, it should be remembered that, according to the
European MOOC Scoreboard (,
Spain is the country with the most Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) largely due to the
MiriadaX initiative launched towards the end of 2012 by Universia and Telefónica Learning Services.
2012 was indeed the “Year of the MOOC,” as coined by the New York Times (Pappano, 2012).
During the 2012–13 academic year the group of professors mentioned earlier decided to take
their work a step further converting one of their OCW courses to MOOC format. The course ran on
the MiriadaX Platform (Figure 2) supported by Telefónica Learning Services and Universia. As in
most cases, when a specific platform is used the course materials and interactions were centralized
there following the xMOOC model (Daniel, 2013). It was therefore important in the MOOC design
stage to take into account the affordances provided by the platform as these determine the format
of the learning contents and the types of assessment that can be supported.
The course was comprised of 9 modules, one per week, plus a brief introductory module in week
one. The total estimated study time amounted to 27 hours. Each module contained 4 videos of 15
minutes each one, plus reading texts and Prezi presentations. The forum, Q&A, and blog provided
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Figure 2: Contratación y Medios de las Administraciones Públicas on MiriadaX MOOC Platform
by the platform were used for communication with the students, and assessments were carried out
using the interactive test and peer review of the case problems.
The fact that most of the materials (digital textbooks, tests, case problems, and final exams),
originally prepared in the form of OERs for the OCW course, already existed was a considerable
advantage. These materials can be transferred to the MOOCs with a few adaptations (just adjust
them to the new platform format).
The additional materials prepared specifically for the MOOC were, first of all, the Prezi presentations in two versions, a short one to be projected during the videos and a longer version to be
downloaded and used as a study plan; and secondly, the audiovisual materials, 36 videos with a
total duration of 540 minutes.
It was also necessary to prepare links to topics of current interest for the blog and answer
students’ comments, reply to questions from the Q&A and take part in the conversations in the
The two features that characterize a MOOC, the audiovisual materials and course interaction, are
precisely the ones that present greater complexity and a larger workload for the professors.
Regarding the audiovisual materials it is not just a question of recording the sessions but also
doing intense preparation in advance. So that the videos will be effective a script has to be written
and the materials that are going to be projected have to be adapted to the length of the video, at
the same time making sure they cover all the necessary content. This time limit and the lack of
contact with the students require the teachers to adopt a more direct and concise approach than
in normal classroom teaching.
As for the dynamic feature of MOOCs, this requires the teachers to maintain a different attitude
than with OCW courses, as it is necessary to monitor the course schedule closely making sure that
the materials are published in the right sequence. The teachers also have to take part in the Q&A,
blog, forum, and wikis, which multiplies the workload, since this requires feeding all these resources
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with content as well as answering students’ questions, comments and remarks since lack of
feedback creates negative reactions that quickly spread and affect the course development.
In summary, based on our experience we can say that to successfully convert an OCW course
to a MOOC a professor has to fulfill the following requirements:
a) To prepare the course in a specific format. A MOOC project cannot be approached in the
same way and with the same content as an on-campus course. The amount of time students
have available and their working pace is different and so MOOCs require specific design and
b) To be able to count on a documentary and audiovisual support team. The professor should
be able to rely on at least a technician to help him with editing the text materials. Likewise
another technician (or a team in this case) in charge of recording and editing the videos.
c) To prepare the videos in advance. It is not enough just to record a normal class, instead it is
convenient to plan the content of each video, prepare a script and rehearse it.
d) To monitor the course through all its stages. Even though the professor does not intervene
directly s/he should supervise each stage in order to identify the students’ reactions and, if
necessary, carry out the necessary adaptations or corrections.
e) To intervene in the course. The students need to know that there is a teacher behind the
course, so it is important to interact as far as possible leaving some messages in the forum,
on the blogs or any other social media.
In short, a MOOC implies greater effort on behalf of the professor and the institution that is
difficult to quantify. In any case, we can state that a well designed and delivered MOOC is the
equivalent in working hours to a teacher preparing a new subject from scratch. In the case of having
already prepared an OCW course with course materials that are ready to be published then we can
say that the workload is reduced by half.
The Result: The Massive Open Online Course (UC3M-MiriadaX MOOC)
With regard to open education experiences MOOCs are currently attracting all the attention and are
creating great expectations that have derived in a “global virtual university” (Marshall, 2013).
The reasons for this phenomenon are the unique characteristics of MOOCs that bring them
closer to an on-campus education experience (see Table 1: OCW-MOOC Comparison). In particular MOOCs focus on the knowledge to be learned or xMOOCs (Haggard, 2013) that are courses
entailing guided learning in a previously established time period that has to be adhered to by the
students. In MOOCs students have contact with the teacher who provides them with access to
knowledge by way of videos and with whom they can interact in the forum, blogs, wikis, etc. Likewise the students learn by interacting with the various activities (online tests, peer reviews, etc.).
Furthermore, they have to take the final assessment to verify the degree of knowledge acquired
that will allow them some form of accreditation.
In this way the students are subject to a hetero-discipline that is more in align with on-campus
courses and will also allow them some form of certification. These are powerful incentives for
students to finish their learning process with greater success.
As far as preparation and design are concerned, MOOCs require a specific effort since it is not
enough to adapt on-campus class materials. MOOCs require course planning depending on their
format and creating specific materials as well as adapting those that already exist.
MOOCs tend to focus on audiovisual materials since they are distinguished by containing a series
of videos in which the teacher explains the course content. This does not mean that text materials
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are not necessary, quite the contrary and in the case of MOOCs that have been transformed from
an OCW course these materials already exist.
The practice materials in a MOOC take on new significance thanks to the feedback mechanisms
since, in general, the tests, practice cases etc., can be submitted and corrected either automatically
(tests) or by peer review. This means that the practice materials have to be adapted to the course
format and to the MOOC platform in question.
Assessment is another distinctive feature of MOOCs which means that a final assignment has
to be prepared in order to grade the degree of learning obtained that will give the student the
corresponding accreditation or certificate.
Finally, MOOCs require monitoring in real-time which means that the teachers have to supervise
each stage of the course carrying out the necessary adjustments. They also usually interact with
the students in different ways, in the forum, chats, blogs, wikis, etc.
Going back to the UC3M experience, the OCW course on “Public Procurement, Public Personnel
Administration and Public Property Law” turned into a MOOC, ran on the MiriadaX Platform from
January 31 to April 15, 2013 (Figure 3).
The students had a program of 9 weeks of work according to the following plan: watching
the videos (4 videos of 15 minutes in length), studying the reading text with the help of the Prezi
presentation plan, answer a 10 question test, with 4 options per answer, and submit a practical
assignment for peer evaluation. Each assignment had to be completed in order to be able to go on
to the next one.
As for communication tools (among the students, with the professors and with the platform administrators) the students had a Q&A, a blog, a forum and a wiki. Some of these tools were redundant
and the students only used the forum and the blog. In the forum they asked questions concerning
Figure 3: Contratación y Medios de las Administraciones Públicas: course program
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Figure 4: Contratación y Medios de las Administraciones Públicas: course blog
the content and the development of the course to which the professors had to respond. The
blog was also used for drawing the students’ attention to further sources of information such as
institutional web pages, press news or TV programs (Figure 4).
More than 2,000 students enrolled on the course, the majority from Spain and Latin American
countries. The latter was rather surprising since, as noted before, Law Studies tend to have a local
focus depending on each country. Most of the students were not taking degrees in Law at the time
but were graduates that were hoping to refresh or increase their degree of knowledge on the
subject, many of them being civil servants or preparing for competitive exams to join the Civil
Service. About 200 students successfully completed the MOOC, and those that did so felt it had
been hard work but a very rewarding experience.
Just like the OCW course, which is the origin of this MOOC, this course has certain very specific
features. First, beyond the audiovisual materials, it relied on an important amount of reading texts,
originally from the OCW course, which contributed a more in-depth and solid approach to the
subject matter. In this respect we should consider whether videos and activities are enough to teach
higher education content (Young, 2013); without doubt audiovisual material is a good supplement
but we should not try to replace traditional study materials if we are going to seriously engage in
open education.
Furthermore, this MOOC contained an important workload for the student following an intense
program with complex assignments and evaluation tasks. As a result, a large number of students
dropped out during the first week, but those who continued and reached the end of the course
obtained a solid education similar to students enrolled in a Bachelor’s Law degree. At this point we
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should reflect on whether MOOCs are merely showcases for teachers and universities (Haggard,
2013) trying to overcome the crisis in higher education (Vardi, 2012; Watters, 2013) or whether we
really want to offer an open education on the same level as on-campus education for which students
pay tuition fees.
The transformation of OCW into MOOCs is a step forward in open education, which is worthwhile
not only for teachers but also for educational institutions (Delgado Domínguez, 2014).
The work contained in an OCW course constitutes a solid base from which to create a MOOC.
The fact that one has already developed an OCW course is always a conditioning factor, which
distinguishes the MOOCs with an OCW origin from others, due to the additional materials available
for the students to help them further their understanding of the concepts presented in the videos.
However, the work and experience accumulated in OCW are not enough. Before starting a MOOC
one has to consider the important workload involved in preparing adequate audiovisual material
that goes beyond recording the sessions. Likewise, one should take into account the fact that a
MOOC implies greater involvement on behalf of the teachers that cannot neglect the course and
have to attend to its development and contribute with a certain degree of interaction.
In fact, when both instructors and support staff face designing and preparing a MOOC for the first
time, we tend to underestimate the workload as well as the pedagogical, logistical, technological
and financial issues involved. We think that a tool, such as MOOC Canvas (,
that offers a conceptual framework for the description and design of MOOCs could be extremely
useful for future courses.
For this reason a high level of support is required for recording, editing and subtitling all the
audiovisual material and easing the workload entailed in preparing and running a MOOC. It is also
necessary to support the course when it is online as often incidences occur that have to be solved
by technical staff.
The move to MOOCs means an important step forward in open education that should be seen
as a supplementary model to OCW and not a substitute (Peter & Farrell, 2013). OCW courses and
MOOCs are intended for different target audiences that are looking for different learning dynamics
(Zhenhong, Wen & Zhi, 2013). In the case of OCW the content is usually used as reference
material on a one-off basis for consultation or similar purposes. Whereas, in the case of MOOCs a
more guided learning process is preferred that culminates in some form of certification.
The transformation of OCW into MOOCs provides the opportunity to develop a more serious,
committed and rigorous model of open education. Having already published a series of teaching
materials as OCW will guarantee that the MOOC will not only be a collection of videos and exercises
but instead will contain a solid teaching project.
MOOCs can be the best showcase of the universities and offer an insight into the quality of
on-campus courses, which could attract future students; but, at the same time, they should provide
a solid and useful learning experience for those who cannot afford it.
This paper was presented at the 2014 OpenCourseWare Consortium Global Conference, held
in Ljubljana (Slovenia) in April 23th–25th 2014 (, with
whom Open Praxis established a partnership. After a pre-selection by the Conference Programme
Committee, the paper underwent the usual peer-review process in Open Praxis.
Open Praxis, vol. 6 issue 2, April–June 2014, pp. 145–158
From OCW to MOOC
The effort made by this group of professors has been recognized by the OpenCourseWare Consortium.
In 2011 the course “Instituciones Básicas del Derecho Administrativo” (Basics of Administrative Law) won
the Award for OpenCourseWare Excellence (ACE) in the text and illustration courseware category (see
Figure 1) (Source: OpenCourseWare Consortium Awards for Excellence, retrieved February 2014 from In 2012 professor José Vida Fernández on behalf of the rest of the
group won the Educators Award for his work in support of the OCW movement (Source: OpenCourseWare
Consortium Awards for Excellence, retrieved February 2014 from
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Papers are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Open Praxis, vol. 6 issue 2, April–June 2014, pp. 145–158