The Open Courses Portal (Portal de Cursos Abertos – PoCA) is a free and open distance learning platform available in the Moodle Online Learning Page (Ambiente Virtual de Aprendizagem Moodle), whose activities integrate the extension program of same name, administered by the General Distance Learning Office (Secretaria Geral de Educação a Distância) of the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), registered in the Extension Vice-Presidency (Pró-reitoria de extensão) of UFSCar.
The courses available on PoCa provide academic training and upgrading in various fields, in addition to those aimed at promoting innovation in the teaching and learning processes. The courses are: communal, since they can be taken by a significant number of people; free, since no payment is required; online, since internet connection is necessary; long-distance, since no on-site classes are considered; open, since anyone, be them in Brazil or abroad, are able to enroll.
This project was funded by CAPES in its 03/2015 public notice – “Promoting innovation concerning the development and application of Information and communication technologies (ICT) in Education” (Fomento à inovação para o desenvolvimento e aplicação de Tecnologias de Informação e Comunicação em Educação) within Brazil’s Open University System (Sistema Universidade Aberta do Brasil). The public notice’s objectives were to promote the pedagogical, technological and educational management innovation by means of the Communication and Information Digital Technologies (Tecnologias Digitais de Informação e Comunicação) (TDIC) development, application, formation, spread and evaluation in education, as well as improvements in higher education by means of innovative teaching and learning methods and practices, aimed at the convergence between on-site and distance learning educations supported by fundings from TDIC.
A name was chosen that could be easily recognized and publicized. Portal de Cursos Abertos was considered and then we came up with PoCA. Originally tupi, an indigineous language, the word comes from the verb “pocar” (póka+ar) meaning “hit hard, pop”. Its meaning resonated immediately towards our purpose with this portal: we want to make the difference, make it happen. It is also a tribute to one of the most regular visitors to our office, the sabiá-poca, a small bird found all over UFSCar’s campus, channeling the openness inherent of this portal’s courses. Those were actually the concepts that oriented designing our visual identity.