World’s first MOOC in 1995

In 2013, everyone is talking about MOOCs. New York Times last year even declared 2012 – The Year of the Mooc!

In fact, the MOOC was an Australian invention and was officially launched in Melbourne in 1995. School of Thinking is 100% online and has been offering and teaching its original version of daily moocs–training thousands of students in dozens of countries and every single day–since its online establishment in 1995.

SOT daily mooc classes were massive. They were open access (to anyone with an email address). They were online. They were daily. Our training motto was and still is: We teach thinking as a skill. Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime.

If any traditional higher-learning institution had wanted to create a MOOC site to match the School of Thinking they would have first needed to publish 251 educational articles and then posted 1,191 authentic questions that had stimulated 47,591 thoughts and comments returned from their students … as of today! (16 October, 2013).

Where does learning take place?

Since Plato, Aristotle and Socrates 2500 years ago, the traditional view of education is that learning takes place in the classroom. The traditional model for most universities and centres of higher learning has been campus classes and tutorials with qualified professors for groups of around 100 students at a time.

SOT takes a different view. A digital view. We say learning takes place in the student’s brain. Every day! That brain can be anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

SOT is not a university. We are established to focus on only one faculty: metacognition. So SOT changed the traditional model.

The problem with the ancient campus model is that it is not scalable. Campus classes are often groups of around 100 students with a professor at most universities. SOT employed our XIO strategy and started online classes (in those days we called them virtual classes) of ten times the offline number. 100 XIO = 1000. And more!

Previously we even issued a printed MOOC. We collaborated with Readers Digest magazine presenting a broadcast of 7 SOT lessons which went to a massive audience of 68 million. As that was in 1983 this audience was not yet socially wired. There was no charge for the lessons. The lessons were free (except for the cost of the magazine). Thought experiment: Imagine what might have happened if this massive RD class could have been online.

Since 1995, SOT has been sending out daily moocmails to students in business and government enterprises around the world. There is a BIG difference between MOOCs and Daily MOOCs!

The Benefits of Daily MOOCs in Business

Daily MOOCs cost much less. Daily MOOCs save time and money. Daily MOOCs are digital not analogue. Daily MOOCs are much more scaleable. Daily MOOCs offer a much better ROI. Daily MOOCs are much faster. Daily MOOCs can transfer business skills like innovation, cost-cutting and selling. Daily MOOCs can be personalised or bespoke. Daily MOOCs can be enterprise-wide. Daily MOOCs can raise enterprise intelligence. Daily MOOCs can raise employee engagement. Daily MOOCs are measureable. Daily MOOCs can raise employability. Daily MOOCs can create more profit. Daily MOOCs can be bottom-up instead of top-down. Daily MOOCs can be global not just parochial. Daily MOOCs can be offered to customers not just employees. Daily MOOCs can create jobs. Daily MOOCs can be free!

Daily moocmails: “Give us this day our daily moocmail!” At SOT we developed the first daily moocmail–daily massive open online class driven by email–and each daily moocmail has a DFQ. A DFQ is the basic training unit of SOT. It’s a Daily Feedback Question. A DFQ is an authentic question to which the daily mooc seeks an authentic reply from the SOT student. SOT uses the DFQ as our primary pedagogical KPI. DFQs are like an innovation enzyme. Those brains that are on DFQs are thinking much faster (up to ten times faster) than those brains who do not have daily access.

DFQs are one of the pedagogical strengths of SOT. They are self-organising educational lessons where the students become the teachers.

EXAMPLE: click and see an example of a daily mooc and note the massive number of student feedback COMMENTS at the end of the online class.




half a billion lessons since 1979 …



40 thoughts on “World’s first MOOC in 1995

  1. hi Michael,

    I attended your two (2) sessions at the Brisbane Ideas festival in March 2009.

    I am writing to request a certificate for attending the course at The Queensalnd State library.

    Mark Reedman

  2. so, I am a clinical psychologist, specialised in intellectual and cognitive problems. I am also based in France though raised throughout the world.
    Just discovered you existence.

    Tell me more!

  3. In science, the power of a theory is the number of things it explains divided by the number of things it assumes. The more things that can be explained by a theory that assumes as little as possible is what gives the theory its power

    answer why : its an interesting theory given by darwin about the power of theory and even explains how to know relationship between explanations ans assumptions

  4. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to be with myself guided by your lessons in something that will always be the most personal event in the world: my own thinking.

    The invitation came from the CEO of and I’m really excited to develop my thinking to new heights, because I highly respect David Cameron’s work and have read 3 of Edward de Bono´s books. I’m sincerely grateful and happy to grow …. again!

  5. Excellent site and service. The first ten lessons have seen me through some tricky times and given me renewed faith in the power of improved thinking skills. Thank you so much!

  6. Michael, I am just about to embark on this journey via your School of Thinking and am excited about the process. I will post comments as I go along. Thank you so much for all you do, and cheers to a fun, meaningful and prosperous remainder to 2007.

  7. … and the Truth will set u free. I guess u have to use your thinking to find the Truth, so I’ve been given the directions to learn thinking. Thank your for your work! Hope that I will learn something useful. Corneliu

  8. I’m interested to enhance my thinking skills and The School of Thinking is a wonderful oppurtunity to start today.

  9. I have read Edward de Bono’s ‘Six Thinking Hats’ and ‘How to have a beautiful mind’. Both books have helped me in my quest to sharpen my thinking skills, and I am keen now to continue with the School of Thinking course.

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