SURFnet Innovation Challenge 2015

SURFnet Innovation Challenge 2015

SURFnet is een nieuw initiatief gestart: de Innovation Challenge:

Via de Innovation Challenge maken duo’s van docenten en studenten in het hoger onderwijs kans op € 10.000 voor experimenten waarbij zij innovatieve ICT-toepassingen inzetten om flexibel en gepersonaliseerd onderwijs te stimuleren, onderwijs op maat te bieden en aan te sluiten bij de leerbehoeften van studenten. De experimenten kunnen een toepassing, product of dienst opleveren waar studenten en docenten direct baat bij hebben in het hoger onderwijs en die een directe bijdrage leveren aan het verbeteren van het onderwijs.

Het gaat om experimenten waarbij innovatieve ICT-toepassingen worden ingezet binnen een onderwijscontext. Denk bijvoorbeeld aan toepassingen waarbij slim gebruik is gemaakt van augmented reality, 3D printing, drones, wearables, big data etc. Of aan producten of diensten als apps, games, ebooks of interactietools.

Interessant aan het initiatief is dat het gaat om een combinatie van een docent met een student. Binnen de Extension School bestaan de meeste Course Teams uit een team van docenten en studenten. Onze ervaring is dat dit erg goed werkt.

Om mee te doen aan het voorstel moet je voor 9 oktober je voorstel indienen. Het gaat hierbij om het invullen van een template en het aanleveren van een video of animatie. Het voorstel dat je indient moet binnen 6 maanden te realiseren zijn.

Meer informatie is te vinden op

New cheating method in MOOCs

Last week MIT published an interesting working paper about a new methode of cheating in open courses. They named the method “copying answers using multiple existences online” (CAMEO):

In this method of cheating, a user creates multiple accounts, one of which is the primary account that will ultimately earn a certificate. The other accounts are used to find or “harvest” the correct answers to assessment questions for the master account.

The easiest solution to prevend this is to randomize questions or to create questions with randomized parameters. These techniques are easy to employ in STEM courses, but much harder in other courses. The test system of edx (and other mooc providers) are still very basic and more mature test systems (such as Maple TA and QuestionMark Perception) already have much more advanced possibilities to prevend this.

Interesting is that they also found cultural differences:

The strategy is mostly used by learners outside the U.S. While only 0.4 percent of the learners in the U.S. earned their certificates by using multiple accounts, 12 percent of learners in Albania did. Indonesia, Serbia, Colombia and China rounded out the list of the top five countries with the highest rates, registering at between 4 and 2 percent.

Receiving Credits for a MOOC

The problem above is why not a lot of colleges and universities are accepting MOOCs for credits. Exams have to be proctored to count for credit. Personally, I think we should invest more in alternative ways of assessment that better fit the online world.

Eliminating expenses textbook

Eliminating expenses textbook

Last week University of Maryland announced that they are replacing all the textbook with no-costs online resources.

As of this fall, UMUC has moved away from publisher textbooks to no-cost digital resources embedded in courses, saving each UMUC undergraduate student hundreds of dollars a session—potentially thousands over the course of the degree.
By the fall of 2016, all of UMUC's graduate classes will be textbook-free, too. The collective savings is estimated to be in the millions for the more than 80,000 students taking classes at UMUC annually.

This is the kind of leadership we need to fight the power of the publishers and make university more affordable. At the Open Education Global Conference the Open Education Consortium already honoured the university with the President's Award.

Although the costs of textbooks in Europe are lower, it is expense to buy books for a year of university. It would like to see that we could do the same for our Bachelor education.

A Review of the Recent Literature on MOOCs and Quality

A Review of the Recent Literature on MOOCs and Quality

Sarah Hayes has written an interesting report about MOOCs and Quality. She wrote this report in commission for the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) in the UK. This literature review presents a number of different perspectives from a broad range of sources relating to the nature of MOOCs and pertinent considerations of quality.

The report gives a good overview of MOOCs and quality. I agree with Sarah that with each new learning innovation, MOOCs present the possibility of new approaches to education, but the promises now need to be evaluated to see what can be delivered in the longer term, on a sustainable basis and with what implications for HEIs and for the assurance of quality.

Download report

Job opening for 2 eLearning developers

Job opening for 2 eLearning developers

Do you want to be part of innovating education with online education? Help us to become a world leader in online education? Educate the world! We are looking for 2 eLearning Developers to join our (international) team!

TU Delft

Delft University of Technology is the leading University of Technology in the Netherlands with a global reputation in the fields of science, engineering & design. TU Delft’s mission is to make a significant contribution towards a sustainable society for the twenty-first century by conducting ground-breaking scientific and technological research which is acknowledged as world-class, by training scientists and engineers with a genuine commitment to society and by helping to translate knowledge into technological innovations and activity with both economic and social value.

Open & Online Education

TU Delft has been a forerunner in the field of Open & Online Education since 2007, and is one of the sustaining members of the Open Education Consortium and since 2013 charter member of the EdX Consortium. In March 2014, the board of the TU Delft approved a 3-year innovation program to accelerate the development of open & online education. The goal is to educate the world by creating an online learning portfolio with open & online courses for a global population of life long learners. Our courses are listed on

Job description

As eLearning Developer you will be part of the (international) Extension School team, which supports and leads the online learning developments of the university. You will create advanced eLearning modules that will be part of the TU Delft Online Learning portfolio. The Extension School delivers MOOCs, Professional Education, 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 and support 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. Together with a team of eLearning developers you will also work on constantly improving course designs and deliveries.

  • Devise complex technical methods and processes to meet new and unique eLearning and web requirements and resolve technical problems.
  • Ability to work independently. Ability to interact effectively with various faculty members in the TU Delft organization.
  • Recognize, recommend and participate in the development of standards and procedures that support quality improvement in the Delft Extension School and products for our students.
  • Provide project management for e-learning projects with tight deadlines. These projects bring together people from various departments and backgrounds to develop content, technical specifications and functional prototypes for the Extension School.
  • Provide training to faculty on developing and teaching online courses.
  • Meet all internal deadlines according to project plan regardless of project limitations.


  • Master of Education (M.Ed) in Instructional Design, Educational Technology or related experience plus 1 year recent curriculum design and/or course development experience in online education;
  • Demonstrate a keen sense of organization and attention to detail;
  • Demonstrated ability to handle unforeseen difficulties and obstacles with ease;
  • An excellent team player that is able to work on complex projects with a group of other course developers;
  • Ability to work on a tight, rapidly-changing schedule;
  • Experience with using ICT in education, such as digital assessment, e-moderating, online teaching methods and platforms;
  • A committed consultant with strong communication skills in English, mastery of Dutch is a plus;
  • Experience in higher education;
  • Experience as a teacher of open or online education is a plus.

For more information and application, please visit our official vacancies website. If you have questions you can contact me via contact form above.

Defining Blended Learning

The world of education is changing in the current internet age. That means that definitions of education are also needs to be updated. A definition that is commonly used is the one of the Sloan Consortium (2007) (nowadys known as Online Learning Consortium):

Course that blends online and face-to-face delivery. substantial proportion (30 to 79%) of the content is delivered online, typically uses online discussions, and typically has some face-to-face meetings.

Below is the full overview of their definitions from traditional to online education.

Defining Blended Learning
Definition (Sloan Consortium, 2007)

Defining blended within the TU Delft

Within the TU Delft we noticed that this definition was not working for the Extension School programme. there seemed two different kind of blended education:

  • traditional education adopted to blended learning
  • online learning adopted to blended learning

Both are called 'blended learning', but they were completely different and more important there seems to be a path from traditional education -> blended learning -> online learning. But in practice that path didn't lead to the online learning we want to offer (off course there are exceptions).

So we defined blended for the Extension School with a focus on the reuse of (open) online resources:

Blended education involves embedding online products, such as MOOCs, online courses or open educational resources in your campus course.

OLC Updated E-learning Definitions

Recently the Online Learning Consortium published an updated list of definitions. They list 7 types:

  1. Classroom Course – Course activity is organized around scheduled class meetings.
  2. Synchronous Distributed Course—Web-based technologies are used to extend classroom lectures and other activities to students at remote sites in real time.
  3. Web-Enhanced Course – Online course activity complements class sessions without reducing the number of required class meetings
  4. Blended (also called Hybrid) Classroom Course – Online activity is mixed with classroom meetings, replacing a significant percentage, but not all required face-to-face instructional activities.
  5. Blended (also called Hybrid) Online Course – Most course activity is done online, but there are some required face-to-face instructional activities, such as lectures, discussions, labs, or other in-person learning activities.
  6. Online Course – All course activity is done online; there are no required face-to-face sessions within the course and no requirements for on-campus activity.
  7. Flexible Mode Course – Offers multiple delivery modes so that students can choose which delivery mode(s) to use for instructional and other learning purposes.

In these new definitions the Consortium makes the same kind of distinction in blended as we did (compare 4 and 5). Furthermore, I think we have courses in all seven categories at our university.

There is more to blend

If you look at the definitions there are based on the mix of two types: online versus face-to-face. I agree with Steve Wheeler that there are much more modes of learning that you can blend. Some examples he lists are the mix between social and personal learning, between synchronous and asynchronous activities, between mobile and tethered learning experiences. I fully agree with his summary:

So blended learning is becoming an increasingly complex concept, with multiple possibilities and infinite options. Blended is about choice, and about maximising your learning in the modes you find most convenient. Learning in all its forms is a little like the blender in your kitchen. Put in the right ingredients, and use a little effort, and hopefully the result will turn out to be very useful.

Open Science and Education

Open Science and Education

More and more you hear about the term "Open Science". The term refers to developments in how science is becoming more open, accessible, efficient, democratic, and transparent, based on new, digital tools for scientific collaboration, experiments and analysis and which make scientific knowledge more easily accessible both for professionals and the general public.

After a public consult, the European Commission has adopted this term as well to replace the term Science 2.0. Last month Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation outlined the plans for "Open Innovation, Open Science, Open to the World".

Open Education

I think this is a very good initiative, but it is missing an important aspect. According to the plans we should do a much better job in bringing Science to Society, but there is no mentioning of Open Education. According to the Open Education Consortium "Open Education combines the traditions of knowledge sharing and creation with 21st century technology to create a vast pool of openly shared educational resources, while harnessing today’s collaborative spirit to develop educational approaches that are more responsive to learner’s needs."

The strength of (Open) Education is that it makes knowledge much more accessible for a general public. It is not only about sharing (publishing content), but really about learning. So to use the knowledge for learning new skills and competencies. That will really prepare the European citizens for the 21st century.

MOOCs as dissemination of research

A very good example of these are MOOCs,  or at least the open MOOCs. I'm not talking about the introduction courses on many subject, but on the advanced courses. A good example is one of our MOOCs on the subject of Topology in Condensed Matter: Tying Quantum Knots. This course ran this spring on EdX with 4,000 people. That doesn't sound like much (at least in comparison to our other MOOCs), but keep in mind that you need at least a Master in Physics, preferable a PhD to follow this course. All the course materials are also available outside of edx to make it even more accessible. The lecturers of this course are all involved with the research conducted at the Delft Kavli Institute on Quantum Computers.


Image: CC-BY 4.0 International License  Open Knowledge Foundation

DelftX MOOCs coming this fall

DelftX MOOCs coming this fall

This summer and fall we are running 11 MOOCs. There are couple of new courses and a lot of reruns of popular courses. We also offer two self-paced courses.
All reruns will be improved based on the evaluation of prior runs. For the evaluation we use data of edx, the data of the surveys and interviews with the involved people. Another 5 new MOOCs are being produced (but haven't been announced) and last Friday we approved 3 new MOOCs.

Full story »

Dutch boycott of Elsevier

Dutch boycott of Elsevier

Last week the Dutch universities decided to boycot Elsevier, because of the negotiations around open access. This is a mayor step in the battle for open.

As a first step in boycotting the publisher, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) has asked all scientists that are editor in chief of a journal published by Elsevier resign. If this way of putting pressure on the publishers does not work, the next step would be to ask reviewers to stop working for Elsevier. After that, scientists could be asked to stop publishing in Elsevier journals.

This is part of a bigger plan to move the Dutch science into the world of open.  Sander Dekker, the State Secretary  of Education has taken a strong position on Open Access. He has set two Open Access targets: 40% of scientific publications should be made available through Open Access by 2018, and 100% by 2024. The preferred route is through gold Open Access – where the work is ‘born Open Access’. This means there is no cost for readers – and no subscriptions.

If universities take these targets seriously, bold moves have to be made. This is such a move, more of those should follow! There are still a lot of scientists who are giving their copyright away without even thinking about open access. Steps like thise certainly helps in the awareness.


Image source: Twitter

New Website TU Delft Online Learning

New Website TU Delft Online Learning

Last week we officially launched the new website for online learning at Delft University of Technology. The website presents all the online courses of the university. This includes our MOOCs, Professional Education and master courses.

New Website TU Delft Online Learning
Screenshot of TU Delft Online Learning website


For the website we wanted a little bit more modern design than the current university website. After a selection, the design was made by Richard Straver of Webstudio MM. I'm very satisfied with the design. It follows the current trend of flat design. Not only does the design emphasize the courses, there is also a focus on our lecturers. Each lecturer has his or her own page which shows info about them and the courses they teach. As example the page of Ernst ten Heuvelhof. Nowadays your website is not only accessed with a browser on a pc or laptop, but also on tablet and mobile. So the design is completely responsive and will scale following the width of the screen.


Promo video

We also created a new promo video for TU Delft online learning. The video is featured on the homepage of the website. You can view it here:


 An important and difficult part of creating this website was the backend integration with the university administrative systems. Our systems are optimized for tuition-paying students that enroll for a full year on campus. This website is for people who are enrolling in a single course that is taught fully online and have to pay per course.

If you are a little bit familiar with system integration, you can understand that this can be quiet challenging. For now, we do something things manually because we didn't want to wait.

First enrolments

The website was live on Monday end of day and in the first week we already got the first enrolments in. Some of those enrolments we could connect to the newsletter we send out. It is really great that it all works and that the course offering we have is interesting for many people. Take a look at our courses and start learning!


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