EDENRW8 workshop

Two weeks ago I attended the 8th EDEN Research workshop in Oxford (UK). EDEN is the European Distance and E-learning Network. I was invited as keynote speaker.

It was an interesting conference with good keynote speeches, interactive workshops and good conversations. Others (Sally Jordan, Antonio Texeira) have already written good blogposts, especially the official reporteur Tony Bates.

The organisation has also published the slides of the keynotes on slideshare. Below are the slides I used for my keynote:

Looking for an eLearning Developer with a strong commitment to Open Education

Looking for an eLearning Developer with a strong commitment to Open Education

Extension School Course Development TeamI'm hiring another eLearning developer to further expand our Course Development Team. An the right you see the rest of our Course Development Team:

As eLearning Developer you will be part of a team creating advanced eLearning modules that will be part of the new Delft Extension School. The Extension School delivers OpenCourseWare, MOOCs, blended and online education (bachelor and master level) to a worldwide audience. You will have considerable experience designing and developing online & blended education courses. In this role you will partner with the academic staff to create outstanding open and online courses. Your project management skills contribute to your success in this role as you will be responsible for managing multiple projects.

An important part of this job will that you will be responsible for promoting Open Education and the usage of Open Educational Resources by our faculty and staff. So I'm reaching out to the Open Education community to share this job opening to anyone who might be interested.

More information (and how to apply) can be found on this website. The deadline of applying is 28 november 2014. If you have any question, please send me a message via twitter, skype, email or via the form on this site.



EU Report New modes of learning and teaching in higher education

The EU has a High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education and they have written an report about new modes of learning and teaching in higher education.

The report starts with an introduction of EU comissioner Androulla Vassiliou. The most interesting part is that she emphasizes that all educational materials are published with an open license. It suprises me that the report itself is "© European Union, 2014". There is still some work to do!

The report itself has 15 recommendations:

  1. The European Commission should support Member States in developing and implementing comprehensive national frameworks for diversifying provision and integrating new modes of learning and teaching across the higher education system. It should promote mutual learning on key aspects including skills development, infrastructures, legal frameworks, quality assurance, and funding, in particular by exploiting the potential of the Erasmus+ programme.
  2. The European Commission should prioritise support to higher education institutions under the Erasmus+ programme to enhance digital capacity and mainstream new modes of learning and teaching within the institution. Erasmus+ funding should also be made available to promote experimental partnering with specialist service providers.
  3. The integration of digital technologies and pedagogies should form an integral element of higher education institutions’ strategies for teaching and learning. Clear goals and objectives should be defined and necessary organisational support structures (such as the European Academy of Teaching and Learning) established to drive implementation.
  4. National authorities should facilitate the development of a national competency framework for digital skills. This should be integrated into national professional development frameworks for higher education teachers.
  5. All staff teaching in higher education institutions should receive training in relevant digital technologies and pedagogies as part of initial training and continuous professional development.
  6. National funding frameworks should create incentives, especially in the context of new forms of performance-based funding, for higher education institutions to open up education, develop more flexible modes of delivery and diversify their student population.
  7. National authorities should introduce dedicated funding to support efforts to integrate new modes of learning and teaching across higher education provision. Funding should encourage collaborative responses to infrastructural needs, pedagogical training and programme delivery.
  8. National and regional authorities should utilise opportunities under the European Structural and Investment Funds programme to support the development of necessary supporting infrastructures, technologies and repositories.
  9. Public authorities should develop guidelines for ensuring quality in open and online learning, and to promote excellence in the use of ICT in higher education provision.
  10. The European Commission should support cross-border initiatives to develop quality standards for open and online learning under the Erasmus+ programme.
  11. Higher education institutions should ensure that quality assurance arrangements apply to all forms of credit-awarding provision in the institution. Institutions should use the quality assurance system to monitor retention rates and inform the development of appropriate supports.
  12. The European Commission and national authorities should encourage and incentivise higher education providers to award and recognise credits under the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System for all forms of online courses. The current revision of the ECTS Guide should incorporate these principles.
  13. Governments and higher education institutions should work towards full open access of educational resources. In public tenders open licences should be a mandatory condition, so that content can be altered, reproduced and used elsewhere. In publicly (co-)funded educational resources, the drive should be to make materials as widely available as possible.
  14. Member States should ensure that legal frameworks allow higher education institutions to collect and analyse learning data. The full and informed consent of students must be a requirement and the data should only be used for educational purposes.
  15. Online platforms should inform users about their privacy and data protection policy in a clear and understandable way. Individuals should always have the choice to anonymise their data.

I think these recommendation are clear and useful. They are not only directed at the European Commission, but also for national governments.

Download report

SURFdrive community cloud service

On Friday I was invited to attend the SURF edubloggers meetup. Every now and than SURF invited some of the Dutch edubloggers to inform them about new developments. This time the meeting was about the community cloud and specifically SURFdrive.

Cloud Services

Many students and staff use cloud services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, box.net, and Microsoft OneDrive. They use this because it is very easy to use, they can access it via any device (also when off-campus), it is free and get more storage than their campus account.
The downside is that these cloud services are all offered by  commercial companies that are based in the US. They not necessarly comply with our Dutch laws and university policies on privacy, security, legal protection, and ownership of data.

Community Cloud

An alternative for the public cloud is the private cloud. But you don't have the economies of scale of the public cloud: higher data price and not as easy to share files with other users. Also, not all educational institutions have the expertise to set this up.

The community cloud is the best of both worlds. You have the federated login and good value for money of the public cloud and the privacy and security of the private cloud. The first community cloud services SURF is introducing is SURFdrive. This is an alternative for Dropbox.


With SURFdrive you can store your personal files in a safe and trusted cloud environment that is developed by SURF on behalf of the Dutch higher education and research. The data will always be stored inside the Netherlands and will never be offered or sold to third parties.
SURFdrive offers 100 GB of space to its users, for sharing and storing files documents, photo's, video's. University employees can login to SURFdrive with their institutional account, so no additional usernames and passwords are needed. You can also access your files anytime, anywhere from your smartphone, tablet or laptop.

There are sync tools available for Windows, Apple and Linux and mobile apps for iOS and Android (no Windows Phone).

SURFdrive complies to the "juridische normenkader cloud services" with regards to privacy, security and availability.

Students will be able to buy an account via SURFspot for around 18 euros per year.

SURFdrive is based on the software of ownCloud. OwnCloud is available as open-source and als paid services. There is a overbooking of 20* (on average they expect the user to use 5GB). SURF needs 30,000 users for break-even, but the expect to get above the 100,000 users. On Friday there were less than 2,000 users (116 TU Delft users), but most institutions haven't started with the marketing.


I think this is a very good development of SURF to start with community cloud services and SURFdrive is a very good first product. I use it since 1,5 week and works as smoothly as Dropbox. I would everyone advice to use it, certainly if you are aware of the risks of using public cloud software.

Kamervragen over onze wiskunde-mooc

Pre University CalculusAfgelopen week heeft de Tweede Kamercommissie voor onderwijs een aantal vragen (13-17) gesteld naar aanleiding van het scienceguide artikel over onze pre-university calculus mooc. Hoewel het natuurlijk een hele eer is als we met zo'n initiatief door de politiek worden opgemerkt, zie je ook dat ze vragen gaan stellen op basis van halve informatie. Hieronder een toelichting, die het een en ander verduidelijkt.

De TU Delft ontwikkelt de Pre-University Calculus MOOC in het kader van het edX High School Initiative: 26 gratis online cursussen (MOOC’s) over uiteenlopende onderwerpen die deelnemers wereldwijd voorbereiden op een vervolgstudie. Dit initiatief richt zich op diverse vakgebieden; de TU Delft neemt de cursus Wiskunde voor haar rekening.

Bij veel bèta-opleidingen wereldwijd vinden studenten de wiskunde vaak pittig, bijvoorbeeld omdat het tempo een stuk hoger ligt dan ze gewend zijn. Met deze cursus willen wij hen helpen om voor aanvang van hun studie een goed beeld te krijgen van wat wiskunde aan een universitaire opleiding is, daar plezier in te krijgen en er optimaal op voorbereid te zijn. Dat kan ook de drempel richting bèta-en techniekopleidingen verlagen.

Hoewel de cursus dus niet specifiek wordt ontwikkeld voor Nederlandse studenten, denken we dat het ook voor hen nuttig kan zijn. De cursus kan hen helpen om een beter inzicht te krijgen in wiskunde waardoor ze het vak met meer plezier zullen volgen. Als ze de MOOC gebruiken om de elementaire wiskunde die ze nodig hebben nog even op te halen voor het collegejaar begint, zullen ze in veel gevallen een vlottere start kunnen maken met hun universitaire studie.

De cursus start in de zomer van 2015. Op dit moment hebben zich al zo’n 1500 deelnemers uit 113 landen aangemeld voor de cursus. De meeste van hen komen uit de VS en India. Uit Nederland zijn er nu zo’n 70 inschrijvingen; waarschijnlijk zijn dat voor een groot deel TU-medewerkers en wiskunde docenten. 

TU Delft introduces online courses for professionals

TU Delft introduces online courses for professionals

CybersecurityFrom January 2015, TU Delft will be offering online Professional Education courses. These professional education courses can be followed worldwide and are intended for people who already have several years of work experience and who want to continue their education alongside their work. Together with MIT Sloan School of Management and Rice University, TU Delft is one of the first institutions to offer these ProfEd courses on EdX. The first ProfEd course is ‘Economics of Cybersecurity’. 

Many of our partner universities currently offer professional education—online, on campus or on-site at corporations—in a variety of subject areas. Corporations have approached edX and our partners looking for specialized courses to arm their employees with knowledge necessary to stay at the forefront of their industries.
Our partners will now be able to bring their professional education to a broader learner base for significantly less cost to both employers and their employees. EdX professional education will enable organizations and universities to leverage the edX platform and use our cutting-edge technology to deliver courses to help advance professionals’ careers, increase workplace effectiveness and maintain professional credentialing at a lower price for organizations and individuals.
From executive and continuing education to corporate and management training, edX professional education covers a wide variety of disciplines. Subject areas will include leadership, IT, business, education, engineering, communications, energy, big data and more.

This is a next step in the development of the TU Delft Extension School. We are working on expanding our portfolio for online courses.

Cybersecurity Course

The first course we opened up is the course on Cybersecurity. This course is not focusing on the technical part of cybersecurity, but more on the economics:

EconSec101x offers a broad view of the field through lectures and exercises on empirical data that can apply to both early career professionals as well as senior technical managers. After finishing this course you will be able to apply economic analysis and data analytics. You will understand the role played by incentives on the adoption and effectiveness of security mechanisms, and on the design of technical, market-based, and regulatory solutions to different security threats.

Below is the introduction video of the course with professor Michel van Eeten.

LMS vs. Open Discussion

D'Arcy Norman started an interesting discussion about the false binary of LMS vs. Open. Here are some interesting responses:

In the past I used to be responsible for the Blackboard system of our university. Since a couple of years I'm responsible for the Open Education activities of the university. So this is an discussion that interests me. So here my two cents.

First of all I strongly agree with D'Arcy about the false framing of VLE versus Open. I also think that this frame doesn't benefit either side.

Secondly, I agree that most LMSs (aka VLE) look the same and users have the same objections against them. Some of theme will always complain about the institutional systems their university offers. As Goerge Kroner writes "LMSs remain the most important components of online learning technology for the vast majority of higher education institutions, and LMSs are more open today than they’ve ever been (of course as long as institutions don’t lock them down)."

Thirdly, the educational world is changing. As Phill Hill has posted in his slides there are 4 reasons to consider:

  1. The world around the LMS has changed
  2. The concept of interoperability has changed
  3. Open Education and MOOCs
  4. Just now getting broad LMS adoption

According to Phil we are just now moving into new concept of Learning Platform. I agree with that and see this happening at my own university.

Fourthly, there isn't any Learning Platform out there. So as a university we have to a three options:

  1. Stick with Blackboard
  2. Switch over to another system that might become the Learning Platform we need
  3. Build it ourselves.

I don't believe in option 3 for a single university and I have seen many failures in doing this with multiple universities. So there are two options left. And that is what we are investigating at this moment.

TU Delft participating in EdX High School Initiative

TU Delft participating in EdX High School Initiative

Last week, edX announced their new high school initiative: 26 MOOCs specifically geared to the needs and interests of high school students around the world. As edX CEO Anant Agarwal wrote in the announcement:

Studies show that nearly 60 percent of first-year U.S. college students are unprepared for postsecondary studies. This readiness gap between college eligibility and preparedness is costly not only to students, but also to families and institutions.

Our new initiative will address this severe gap and help alleviate these costly disparities, while also meeting the needs of edX learners who have expressed interest in additional entry-level college course offerings – 90 percent of edX learners according to a 2013 survey.

As I’ve written about in the past, these courses could also provide a path to life-long continuous education, where students come into college after having taken their first-year subjects through MOOCs or other AP* courses, study on campus for two years, then enter the workforce to gain real-world skills, taking MOOCs, community college courses or other online courses as needed throughout their career.

Covering subject areas that range from mathematics to science, English and history, and even college advising and AP onramps, edX high school MOOCs will provide students within the U.S. and around the world the opportunity to pursue challenging, advanced coursework. Currently, 22 high school courses are open for registration, and all 26 will launch within a few months.

TU Delft is contributing the course Pre-University Calculus. Delft is the only European university that is particpating in this initiative. The enrollment of the course has started and you can enroll here.

Special edition on didactics of Open and Online Education

CoverSURF and the Open Education Special Interest Group published a special report  on the didactics of open and online education. SURF organised a ‘pressure cook’ session on the didactics of open and online education on 24 June 2014. The aim of this meeting was to quickly get to the bottom of the key issues, solutions, opportunities and requirements surrounding this current topic with a number of experts and pioneers, focusing on: what are the do’s & don’ts? My colleague Sofia Dopper participated in this session.

This special edition contains three articles and three intermezzos. To start us off, Marjolein van Trigt describes the key outcomes of the ‘pressure cook’ session. In addition to this, the report features an in-depth article by Peter Sloep (Open Universiteit) on this theme. Hanneke Duisterwinkel (Eindhoven University of Technology), Pierre Gorissen (Fontys University of Applied Sciences) and Robert Schuwer (Fontys University of Applied Sciences/Open Universiteit) describe how experiences with this theme differ in higher professional education and academic education. The intermezzos bring together the background literature, present a framework for setting up high- quality online education, and feature a number of pitches from the ‘pressure cook’ session.

Download report

PhD Positions for research MOOCs and Online Education

An important part of our newly established Delft Extension School  is Research and Innovation. Under the leadership of our Dean and Director of Education we have a couple of existing faculty that are involved in this, but we are also hiring new people. The first two job openings are now available.


Researcher Learning Analytics

The research to be conducted will largely be data-driven, using and improving technologies developed within various areas of computer science including web data management, data
analytics and user modeling. It will be inspired by the big data challenges that MOOCs offer. As a researcher you will be hosted, supported, and supervised by the Web Information Systems
Group within the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science. The group has made significant research contributions in user modeling and data analytics within the last few years and will provide the researcher with a large support network and extensive research experience. Additionally, the position is also part of the Open & Online Education team and associated with the Delft Extension School, enabling direct access to education practitioners.

We are looking for a researcher (PhD or Postdoc level),

Deadline: 15 October 2014. More information is available here.

Automatic Assessment and Feedback for Online Assignments

The research in this position will focus on methods and techniques for the design and implementation of automatic assessment of and feedback on assignments in online courses. An assessment should reflect a student’s understanding of the course material, feedback should provide the student with detailed explanations of an assessment, and tutoring should help a student improve that understanding. This requires a thorough analysis of the student’s work. In traditional education environments, this analysis is carried out directly by instructors who can apply the amazing pattern matching and cognitive faculties of the human brain. However, this approach does not scale to the numbers of students of MOOCs, and is already challenged by large regular courses at universities. Automating assessment, feedback, and tutoring requires that we formalize the ‘assessment function’ that is applied by instructors.

We are looking for a PhD student.

Deadline: 15 November 2014. More information is available here.

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