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MOOC: Free Big History. Everything You Need To Know From the Big Bang to Now

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 6:25
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On 28 November, the University of Amsterdam’s Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (ISS) launched the Big History Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the Coursera, YouTube and ChronoZoom platforms. The MOOC, which has been established with the assistance of a grant from the Dutch Ministry of Education, is freely available in all countries.

In this academic MOOC, 20 prominent researchers, from astronomers to historians, will give an integrated overview of the history of everything, from the Big Bang to now.


The MOOC takes approximately 4 weeks on Coursera, but the parts will also be offered separately on YouTube and via the virtual zoomable timeline ChronoZoom. As a result, it is possible to integrate the content oneself into one’s own education. In this way, the MOOC Big History provides context to the various disciplines that are reviewed within this subject.

A better understanding of history

Esther Quaedackers, big history lecturer at the UvA and coordinator of the MOOC: ‘This Big History MOOC brings together 20 top researchers from various disciplines in one course, serving as a beautiful, accessible introduction to better understanding history from the Big Bang up until life on earth as it is today.’

Lucy Wenting, Director of the IIS: ‘With the help of the MOOC, the UvA is aiming, as a pioneer in the field of big history, to meet the fast-growing global demand for big history education. By offering this on different platforms, such as YouTube and ChronoZoom, it offers anyone the opportunity to use the material, and to expand or modernise their education.’


If you would you like to register for this MOOC, please visit and select one of the different platforms on which this MOOC is offered.
The course structure of the YouTube version of this big history course is a bit different than outlined in this video specifically made for the Coursera version, because it is more difficult to embed the components of the course that are not based on videos. Therefore, the overviews based on big history theory and the peer reviewed little big history assignments are not an integral part of this version. 

You can find the overviews separately at (Cosmic History), (The History of Earth and Life) and (Human History). You can find more information on little big histories here.  ’What are little big histories’ that is part of the first module of this course.
ICT in teaching and education
The UvA is developing various initiatives in the field of ICT in education. An increasing amount of lectures can be viewed online – via livestream or afterwards. The development of and experimentation with MOOCs is in keeping with the drive to make knowledge broadly available and to demonstrate the attractiveness of a scientific study.

See the series:

Contacts and sources:

University of Amsterdam’s Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (ISS)


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