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Martín Candela Calabuig, Carlos Carrillo Boj, Adrián González Martín, Pedro Pernías Peco, Sergio Luján-Mora. Using CourseBuilder as a MOOC platform. Abstract Book of the 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation (ICERI 2013), p. 1495, Seville (Spain), November 18-20 2013. ISBN: 978-84-616-3849-9.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are online courses with the option of free and open registration that are usually followed by thousands of students from all over the world at the same time. MOOCs are usually created and offered by higher education institutions, such as universities. The structure and content of MOOCs usually mimics traditional online courses: a syllabus, a calendar, educational materials (mainly videos), some activities or projects, quizzes (usually multiple choice questions) to assess students’ learning, and a forum to discuss with instructors and other students. MOOCs are the natural evolution of OpenCourseWare (OCW), but in contrast with them, MOOCs offer the opportunity to interact with other students and instructors, and they typically provide a sort of certification at the completion of the course.
A key factor in the deployment and success of a MOOC is the scalability. Some systems start to work slowly when the number of users increases. Scalability is the ability of a system to handle a growing amount of users (workload) in a capable manner because it can be enlarged to accommodate that growth. A system without this ability cannot be enlarged to accommodate a huge amount of users, or it can be enlarged but the cost is prohibitive because adding new resources to support new users is more expensive each time. Some popular Learning Management Systems (LMS), such as Moodle or Sakai, have been used to provide MOOCs. However, these LMS present some scalability problems because they were not designed to support thousands of students at the same time.
CourseBuilder (CB) is an open source project of Google. It is important to clarify that CB is not a Google product. CB provides the capability for anyone to create a MOOC. CB runs on Google App Engine (GAE), Google’s could computing platform for developing and hosting web applications in Google’s data centers. The most important feature of GAE is the high level of scalability it offers. But GAE provides additional capabilities that are essential for the creation of a MOOC.