MOOC provider Coursera is reported to be creating "learning hubs" for students to meet in person. This is not surprising as studying online can induce a sense of isolation (I experience this being an international distance education student myself). But this is nothing new: forty years ago the UK Open University found the students were spontaneously creating their own local study groups. This was then formalised.
Online university routinely organise local groups in their own satellite campuses and those of affiliated institutions. This happens all over the world (in Sri Lanka last year I saw campuses of the Open University of Sri Lanka in several cities).
It is a little disingenuous for MOOC creators to pretend they invented the idea, as this is something any student of distance education learns (hopefully some of the MOOC designers have formally studied the discipline of distance education). It is a shame that MOOC designers do not acknowledge this heritage and build on it.
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