Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The Future of Massive Open Online Courses

The burgeoning MOOC - Massive Open Online Courses - community of Europe met this week in the Rolex Learning Centre in Switzerland’s EPFL, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. This stunning and original building by global star-chitects SANAA, one of the most expensive university libraries in the world, is a symbol of belief in the power of place for the student experience in traditional universities, an ironic though attractive, location in which to debate the disruptive educational model of MOOCs at the eMOOC's 2014 European MOOCs Stakeholders Summit.

Over 400 attendees from universities and developers of the main MOOC platforms – Cousera, EdX, Miriada X, Canvas networks, Open2study, Futurelearn, France Université Numérique, iversity, among others – heard illuminating presentations on the benefits and pitfalls of MOOCs. The statistics are clear –  many people register for a MOOC, few become learners (i.e. watch at least one session), and even fewer complete the course and receive a certificate – typically around 5% of the registered learners. Most learners already have a university education, many at Masters level or above.

Two takeaway lessons for this learner. First, the possibility of MOOCs has forced traditional universities and colleges to focus on their existing students and the best form of pedagogy to ensure that both face-to-face and online learning are as good as they can be. Second, and most inspiring, is that MOOCs may in fact deliver a huge increase in global education excellence, improving dramatically equity of educational opportunity, especially for people of the ‘global south’.

Conference Twitter feed: #eMOOCs2014

Rolex Learning Centre © Wikimedia Commons license
Rolex Learning Centre © Alexi Marmot
What are MOOCs? © Creative Commons license

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