The Open Wine University (or #OWU for short) is the University of Burgundy’s first MOOC. We were in the process of defining our MOOC strategy when the opportunity to join the EMMA project arose and for a university in a wine-producing region such as ours, and with a renowned Institute for Wine and Vine (IUVV), including a unique UNESCO chair in the field, it was only natural for us to choose this area to open our knowledge and expertise to the world.
In recent years, we have been working closely with the IUVV to set up a blended diploma course in Wine, Culture and Wine Tourism, so the academic staff already had very good experience of what it takes to produce online content and to design online activities. The challenge for the #OWU MOOC has been to set the right level of difficulty, to design practical activities appropriate for a massive audience and to address the legal issues of dealing with a subject such as alcohol in an international open learning environment. The phrase ‘wine-tasting is not drinking’ has become our leitmotif!
We expect a high number of participants for such a MOOC which, as far as we know, is the first in the world on the subject of wine. With this in mind, we wanted to ensure that we’d got it right before going live. So we decided to run a large-scale beta-test with members of the University of Burgundy community. From just one email sent by our President, nearly 300 staff members signed up for the beta test! And over half of those actually enrolled on the EMMA platform to follow the MOOC and provide their feedback to help us improve it. As learners they find a series of professionally produced videos on subjects as diverse as what really goes on during the fermentation process, how the soil affects the characteristics and quality of a wine, and how our senses work together in the wine-tasting process. They also get to do a variety of individual and collaborative activities, not all of them digital, but which I shall not reveal here! We are approaching the final week of the beta-test and the feedback we have received from participants so far is proving very valuable for refining both the activities and the functionalities of the EMMA platform.
The public #OWU MOOC launched in French and English on May 21st 2015, more info here: http://platform.europeanmoocs.eu/course_mooc_owu_open_wine_university_