The SurfAcademy, a program set up to encourage knowledge exchange between higher education institutions in the Netherlands, organised a seminar on MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses, on 26 February. Several Dutch institutions have started with MOOCs on various platforms and subjects, so the special interest group Open Educational Resources (OER) of Surf thought it was time to share experiences and open up the discussion for institutions that wish to jump on this fast moving train.
The Koninklijke Bibliotheek does not normally provide education as the National Library of the Netherlands, but we do work together with the Dutch universities (of applied sciences) and we are happy to share knowledge with our colleagues and users. Also, as one of the founding members of the impact Centre of Competence in text digitisation, we were asked to think about how we can best share the knowledge that was gathered in the 4 year research project IMPACT. Perhaps a MOOC would be a good idea?
The afternoon has an ambitious program, but is filled with experiences and interesting observations. I thought the most interesting parts of the afternoon were the presentations of the universities that are currently working with MOOCs in the Netherlands. Those were LeidenUniversity, presented by Marja Verstelle, the University of Amsterdam, presented by Frank Benneker and Willem van Valkenburg on the work the Technical University Delft is doing with their MOOC.
It is interested to see the different choices each institution made for their own implementation of a MOOC. Leiden chose to work with Coursera and TU Delft joined EdX, while Amsterdam built their own platform (forever beta) in only two months and just 20k euro with a private partner. Each have their own reasons for these choices, such as flexibility (Amsterdam), openness (Delft) or ease (Leiden). Amsterdam is the only university that has started its MOOC already with great success (4800 participants in the first week), Leiden plans to start in May 2013 and Delft follows in September.
Another interesting presentation was the one by Timo Kos, both from KahnAcademy and Capgemini Consulting. He shared the results of two projects he did on OER, including MOOCs. As he showed us that MOOCs are not a technical hype, because they use no new technologies, merely combine existing ones for a new purpose. However, MOOCs can be indicated as a disruptive innovation, but as he says in the panel discussion at the end of the day we do not have to fear that real-life universities will be pushed out by MOOCs.
All in all, I thought it was a very educative day with lots of food for thought. Most presentations are unfortunately in Dutch, but can be found on the website of the Surf Academy, where you will also find the videos made during the seminar. The English presentations have been embedded or linked to in this post.
Some of the questions and insights I took home with me:
- Leiden and Amsterdam chose to create shorter videos for their MOOCs, while Delft will record regular classes. When do you choose which approach?
- Do you want to use a platform of your own or will you sign up with one of the existing ones? (Examples: Coursera, EdX, Udacity, canvas.net)
- Coursera takes 80-90% of the money made in a MOOC and they sell their user’s data to third parties. (Do have to say that I did not did a fact-check on this one!)
- Do you want to get involved in the world of MOOCs as a non-top-50 university or even as a non-educational institute? The BL will do so, by joining FutureLearn.
- PR of your MOOC is very important, especially if you use your own platform. However, getting a news item on the Dutch 8 o’clock news will probably mean one server is not enough for the first class.
- The success of a MOOC also depends on the reputation of your institution.
- Do students feel they are studying at an institute/university or at i.e. Coursera?
- Using a MOOC towards your own degree is possible when you take the exam in/with a certified testing centre, such as Pearson or ProctorU.
- If you plan to go into online education, when do you consider it a MOOC and when is it simply an online course?