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Harry Potter and the Fan-Designed MOOC

17th Apr 2014

Harry Potter and the Fan-Designed MOOC
New website allows users to study at the fantastical school of Witchcraft and Wizardry, while JK Rowling reports on the Quidditch World Cup for Pottermore.

Hands up: who amongst you Harry Potter fans spent their 11th birthday waiting for a green-inked missive from Hogwarts, hoping to be whisked away from humdrum muggledom to the hallowed school of the magical elite?

Well now you too can gain a wizarding qualification (of sorts) from fan-created website Hogwarts is Here. The site, which functions as a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)/Role-Playing Game hybrid, allows fans of the books to enrol, choose a house, and submit assignments in subjects such as Potions, Herbology, Transfiguration and perennial favourite, Defence Against the Dark Arts.

According to its creators, students can “progress through all seven years of schooling” while earning points for their houses through completed coursework. Socially-minded users can also join a dormitory, write for The Daily Owl or even contribute to the Hogwarts Library (following a rigorously enforced peer-review process one would assume).

Hogwarts is Here is officially unofficial, but it looks set to be popular. Gryffindor already has over 18,000 students and counting; heck, even Hufflepuff has 6,551.

Elsewhere in the Potterverse, J.K Rowling herself has been adding to the stew, as she published a series of “live” reports detailing the 2014 Quidditch World Cup on Pottermore.com.

Writing as Ginny Weasley, who fans will know has enjoyed a successful career as a sports journalist since the series ended, Rowling gives her readers an insight into this year’s dramatic events in Patagonia. The reports detail a clash between rival teams’ mascots – a shark/human shape shifter and giant lake serpent respectively – and include quotes from Magizoologist Rolf Scamander on the behaviour of these magical beasts.

A clue to the reason for Rowling’s extra content came from Pottermore itself, which stated “knowledgeable Harry Potter fans will spot the link to the screenplay for Fantastic Beasts that JK Rowling is currently writing, the protagonist of which is Newt Scamander, Rolf’s grandfather”.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is of course the spin-off book Rowling wrote in 2009 and which she’s currently adapting for a big screen trilogy.

So there’s plenty to keep those of us wishing to escape reality occupied, whether it be studying for your NEWTs at an online Hogwarts or following the scores of the Quidditch World Cup.

What other literary institutions, magical or otherwise, would you like to have attended? Let us know in the comments below…