English Prof. Bruce Powe contributes to European online learning project

York University English Professor Bruce Powe has contributed to a new online learning platform that is a 30-month pilot action supported by the European Union.

EMMA, or the European Multiple MOOC (massive open online courses) Aggregator, is a project that aims to “showcase excellence in innovative teaching methodologies and learning approaches through the large-scale piloting of MOOCs on different subjects,” according to the website.

It provides free, open, online courses available in several languages from various universities in Europe.

“The EMMA team was looking to run a MOOC which investigated what being digital means in today’s world,” said Professor Ruth Kerr at the University of Naples, one of EMMA’s project directors. “We wanted diverse views from some of the leading experts in the field of digital culture, networked learning, algorithms and such. We wanted to involve our experts in online debate, answering questions from other experts and learners alike. And, we wanted to use the course to experiment with some of the innovative features on the platform, including the editing tools and course book, which enables learners to harvest content from various courses and construct their own learning pathway.”

Powe first became involved in March 2016 and has contributed two lessons to the project. The first is a philosophical reflection on new forms of consciousness and awareness in the digital communications’ realm and the second is on iBrain learning (how to learn from the NetGens) and on teaching in the age of electronic screens.

“I was fascinated by the passionate scope of the project,” said Power. “I was intrigued by how many artists and thinkers were involved, offering their thoughts and lessons on new forms of consciousness in the digital age.”

All of the lessons are online, and available to students across the globe. Powe said it gives students at York University an opportunity to be a part of a project that spans the EU.

“It’s an important bridging process,” he said. “It a good thing to build bridges to the European communities of learning and thought, research and writing.”

All of the MOOCs are available in open access to students and teachers through the world, said Kerr. EMMA is focused on increasing access to learning through inbuilt transcription and translation web services, said Kerr. The platform also offers a range of interaction features, an innovative PLE (personal learning environment) and ad hoc tools to monitor and measure learner response.