BBC joins the MOOC market

The BBC is working with four British universities to create a series of massive open online courses (MOOCs) on World War One (WW1)

The MOOCs will be available on the social learning platform, FutureLearn.com.

The pilot project is part of the BBC’s WW1 season and will see each Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds and The Open University deliver a web-based course exploring an aspect of WW1. To create an even richer learning experience, each course will feature material of historical value from the BBC’s vast archive, as well as newly-created multimedia content. All four courses will be open to anyone with an interest in learning more about WW1.

The pilot project will allow the BBC to explore how it can work with British universities to ensure that the UK remains a world leader in online learning. Each course will combine academic material from the universities with video, audio recordings and images from the BBC’s archive, such as interviews with English aviation pioneer Sir Thomas Sopwith and World War One soldier and cartoonist Bruce Bairnsfather.

To support this pilot the BBC will create four new BBC iWonder guides, based on these subjects and presented by Dan Snow, Sian Williams, David Shukman and Johnson Beharry VC. They will introduce audiences to these topics and explore different perspectives on thought-provoking questions.

By combining formal learning material from universities, archive content and new multimedia resources like BBC iWonder guides, the BBC will create rich user journeys that enable audiences to dive deeper into topics that they are interested in – perhaps by starting with an iWonder guide and travelling through to a MOOC.

Sinéad Rocks, Acting Controller of BBC Learning, said: “This is a great opportunity to explore how we can do that as part of our WW1 season, and working as a content partner with these four universities to help deliver online courses will help us establish how we can contribute to the UK remaining a world leader in online learning. MOOCs are an interesting and exciting area, and I’m looking forward to exploring what role we might play.”

The courses are open now for registration and will begin between October and November 2014. They are:

• World War One: Paris 1919 – A New World Order? from the University of Glasgow. Available from 13 October 2014.

• World War One: Aviation Comes of Age, from the University of Birmingham. Available from 20 October 2014.

• World War One: Changing Faces of Heroism, from the University of Leeds. Available from 27 October 2014.

• World War One: Trauma and Memory, from The Open University. Available from 03 November 2014.