The Open University has begun offering courses on the international portal Massive Open Online Courses, also known as MOOCs, which was initiated in the US and offers fully accessible online courses in various disciplines from universities around the world, this week.The Open University joined the MOOCs European initiative, called OpenupEd, which operates with the support of the European Commission. Among its 11 launch partners are institutions based in France, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, the UK, Russia and Turkey.OpenupEd, which has been initiated and is coordinated by the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities – EADTU – and mostly involves open universities, offers around 40 courses in 12 languages, covering a variety of fields such as psychology, history, government, language, science and education.The Open University’s first four courses on the site are Educational Psychology, taught in Arabic; The Modern Middle East, taught in Hebrew; Jews and Christians in Western Europe, taught in Russian; and Genocide, taught in English. Each course is to be completed in 90 hours of study, according to the portal.Each week, students watch two to four short video lectures accompanied by online questionnaires, for which they receive immediate feedback.Subscribers use digital textbooks made available to them on the portal and complete weekly assignments.In parallel to the lessons and class material, blogs, chat rooms and forums are also available to allow students to share their learning experience, discuss the class and generally communicate with other students around the world. Instructors will also be present on the forums in order to assist students more individually.Director of international academic initiatives at the Open University Yoram Kalman said that MOOCs “revolutionizes the public perception of online higher education” and is “shifting the balance of power in the higher education sector.”“The Open University of Israel is excited to be a leader in this global experiment and I invite everyone to join one of our MOOCs and experience the power of open online education,” he continued.“For decades, the open universities of Europe and their partners have brought the highest quality of teaching and learning to all who seek it,” Will Swann, president of the European Association of Distance Learning Teaching Universities, said in a statement at the launch of OpenupEd back in April. “The pan- European MOOCs initiative shows our collective passion to further innovate.”“We look to expand with a growing range of courses from the launch partners, and we will welcome new partners from across the world who share our vision and practice of flexible, responsive higher education,” he added.