Grand Challenges Learning Analytics and Open & Online Education

Grand Challenges Learning Analytics and Open & Online Education

SURF has published a report about the Grand Challenges Learning Analytics & Open & Online Education, unfortunately the report is in Dutch. This report describes the possibilities of Learning Analytics in the field of Open and Online Education and what are the biggest challenges. Per challenges the 6 experts did a literature review and decided on what are the questions that have to be answered, are there national or international examples and what needs more research.

The six experts that contributed to this report are:

  • Alan Berg, Program Manager Learning Analytics UvA, University of Amsterdam, Community Officer Apereo Learning Analytics Initiative
  • Dr. Maartje van den Bogaard, educational advisor and researcher University of Leiden
  • Dr. Hendrik Drachsler, Chairing Research Group on Learning Analytics, Leading FP7 project Learning Analytics Community Exchange (
  • Drs. Renée Filius, programme manager Elevate University of Utrecht Medical Centre.
  • Drs. Jocelyn Manderveld, project manager SURFnet
  • Robert Schuwer, lector OER, Fontys Hogeschool ICT

The five challenges these experts identified are:

  1. What possiblities does Learning Analytics offer as accelerator of (design of) learning?
  2. What are the requirements of a dashboard for instructors?
  3. What can learning analytics contribute to the searchability of open educational resources?
  4. What are the privacy and ethical issues in using learning analytics in open and online education?
  5. What kind of infrastructure is needed to start with learning analytics in open and online education within your institution?

The report gives a good overview of the current state of learning analytics and gives good insight in the challenges we face. Off course you can debate if these challenges are really the biggest challenges. One of the questions I got was why a dashboard for instructors and not for learners?

Dutch Research in Open and Online Education

Dutch Research in Open and Online Education

Yesterday it was officially announced that the Open University NL and University of Utrecht received the 5 year grant for open and online education. The project is called SOONER: The Structuration of Open Online Education in the Netherlands. Officially the project starts in September and is running until August 2020.

The summary of the project:

The SOONER project focuses on fundamental research about open online education (OOE) in the Netherlands. Open online education is viewed as a strategic activity of an educational institution with systemic implications for the organization. Based on proven approaches for program evaluations from the health sciences, the project will enable systematic and long-term research on open online education from a macro-, meso- and micro-perspective. In addition, this project combines fundamental and accompanying research. SOONER will be organized via three PhD-projects on 1) self-regulated learning skill acquisition In the context of OOE, 2) motivation and intentions as key to drop-out in OOE and last but not least 3) scalable support solutions for OOE Including learning analytics. These projects will be framed by a Post-Doc project that focuses on the structural and organizational embedding of OOE. All projects will start from standardized measurement instruments or will adapt those for the specific context of OOE.

All projects will access several sources for their data collection: MOOCs offered by the partner institutions, open courses offered by the OpenUpEd partners, courses offered by the SURF projects and institutions participating in the SURF projects. The SOONER project is connected to the MOOCKnowledge project, a European cross-provider standardized survey about MOOCs and the SCORE2020 project, a European project focusing on support needs of educational institutions for OOE. Data from these European projects will be compared to Dutch OOE initiatives and benchmarking options will be explored. All results of the project will be shared via open licenses. 

The project is lead by Professor Marco Kalz of the Welten Institute of the OUNL.

Different levels of research

The project is doing research on 4 different levels:

  • The micro-level of OOE is related to the individual characteristics of participants of OOE. The two research question they are focusing on are the level of self-regulated learning (SRL) required for OOE and the development of SRL skill development and other part is focusing on the motivation and intention in regards to drop-outs.
  • The meso-level of OOE is related to the course level. Questions of educational design and support options are the most important research aspects here.
  • The macro-level is related to the organisational embedding of OOE. On this level, questions like strategic goals, organizational guidelines and values are important.
  • In addition these three levels are embedded into a national context and environmental variables like funding and structural support of OOE.

I'm looking forward to work with these researchers and to the outcomes of the project.

Update TU Delft MOOCs

Update TU Delft MOOCs

It has been a while that I have gave you an update about our MOOC activities. A lot of information I shared with the people that attended the Action Lab at OEGlobal, but that session wasn't recorded. So here is the update.


Since we began in 2013 we have developed 18 MOOCs. Some MOOC have run for multiple times. In total we already have more than 415,000 enrolments and have issued more than 12,000 certificates (1062 ID-verified).

Update TU Delft MOOCs
Enrolments numbers DelftX MOOCs

New audiences

The first MOOCs we run were aiming at Bachelor students. This year we added some MOOCs that will attract other audiences. For example, the course Topology of Condensed Matter is much more directed toward Master and PhD students with a background in physics. We didn't expect a lot of learners, but still got more than 3,000. 50% of the learners has an advanced degree (Master or higher). Interesting is that the average age is lower than normal (27 instead of 29 in most courses).
Another course is the pre-university calculus course that focuses on high school students. 40% of the learners has a high school diploma as highest diploma. This course will start in July and the goal is to freshen up their math before they start at college or university in September. Already more than 10k learners signed up.

Update TU Delft MOOCs

Self-Paced Courses

This summer we are offering two of our courses as self-paced courses starting on June 2nd. This means that there is almost now involvement of the teacher, but we do have student assistants moderating the forums. The courses we are offering are:


By default we offer English transcript. For the course Data Analysis to the MAX() we also translated the transcripts to Dutch, Hindi and Mandarin.

Because we also publish our MOOC content with an open license on, the course Water Treatment is also translated to Japanese.


�We are strong on openness, but also have to earn some money to cover our costs. Key questions are:

  • Is it possible to sublicense a MOOC and uphold our Open Policy?
  • Is our Open Policy threatened when we sublicense our MOOCs?�

Most sublicensing models are based on the licensing of content, but that doesn't work with our open license model. My colleague Martijn presented our solution at the OEGlobal Conference. I think we found a good solution that combines our open policy with sublicensing. The main slide is below:

Update TU Delft MOOCs
CC BY TU Delft Extension School/ Martijn Ouwehand

Basically it means that our course materials are all openly-licensed, but you need a license with us if you want our Educational Services and Teacher Effort.

Based on this model, we got a sublicensing deal with Arabic MOOC platform EdRaak and there is interest from other organisations.

Online Learning Experiences

As part of our continues activities to enhance the quality of our courses we developed the online learning experience. The Online Learning Experience (OLE) is a student-centred, online learning model that holds eight interrelated principles, which define TU Delft�s online courses.

Update TU Delft MOOCs
CC BY TU Delft Extension School

In the presentation below the model is explained:

At the EDEN Conference in Barcelona (Friday, parallel session H1) Nelson Jorge, Sofia Dopper and I will present the model in more detail, based on the paper we have written about it.

Future developments

There are more developments, but those I can't publish yet. So watch this space for more updates.

Papers OE Global 2015 Conference

Papers OE Global 2015 Conference
Cover Open Praxis journal Vol 7, No 2
Just like last year, a selection of papers of the Open Education Global Conference are published in the ICDE Journal Open Praxis. Open Praxis is a peer-reviewed open access scholarly journal focusing on research and innovation in open, distance and flexible education. Open Praxis is published by ICDE and is under the editorship of Dr. Inés Gil-Jaurena at Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), Spain.

According to the editors the selected papers presented in this issue are a good example of some trends they currently find in the field of open education:

  • The increasing number of research and showcases with a focus on openness, providing a rigorous basis for getting recommendations, lessons learned, highlights.
  • The relevance of open educational practices, a step beyond open educational resources and open courses.
  • The core position of open education within the transformation of higher education, and the relevance of institutional strategies which include "open" to do so.

Here is the list of papers:

The papers are published in Open Praxis Vol 7, No.2 (2015). Other papers of the conference can be downloaded from the conference website.

The Next Generation Digital Learning Environment

Educause has written an interesting report about the Next Generation Digital Learning Environment (NGDLE). The report explored the gaps between current learning management tools and a digital learning environment that could meet the changing needs of higher education. According to the report the principal functional domains are:

  • Interoperability
    Interoperability is the linchpin of the NGDLE. The ability to integrate tools and exchange content and learning data enables everything else.
  • Personalization
    Personalization is the most important user-facing functional domain of the NGDLE.
  • Analytics, Advising, and Learning Assessment
    The analysis of all forms of learning data — resulting in actionable information — is a vital component of the NGDLE and must include support for new learning assessment approaches, especially in the area of competency - based education.
  • Collaboration
    The NGDLE must support collabor ation at multiple levels and make it easy to move between private and public digital spaces.
  • Accessibility and Universal Design
    Efforts to realize the NGDLE should include working toward ensuring that all learners and instructors are able to participate, with access to conten t and the ability to create accessible learning artifacts. We should strive to address issues of accessibility from the start , based on a universal design approach.

The auteurs say that these features can not be found in a single system. They see it as an ecosystem:

  • At the built layer, it will be a confederation of IT systems , including content repositories, analytics engines, and a wide variety of applications and digital services.
  • One ke y to making such a confederation work will be full adherence to standards for interoperability, as well as for data and content exchange.
  • Instead of uniformity and centrality, it will need to support personalization as an option at all levels of the instit ution. The NGDLE will not be exactly the same for any two learners, instructors, or institutions.
  • For users, it will be a cloud-like space to aggregate and connect content and functionality, similar to a smartphone, where users fashion their environments d irectly with self - selected apps.
  • If the paradigm for the NGDLE is a digital confederation of components, the model for the NGDLE architecture may be the mash-up. A mash - up is a web page or application that “uses content from more than one source to create a single new service displayed in a single graphical interface.” Hence it uses a heterogeneity of components to produce a homogeneity of function. The confederation - based NGDLE will be mashed up at both the individual and the institutional levels, as oppo sed to consortia forming to create open enterprise applications.

The report very much aligns with our thinking about our Collaborative Learning Environment, the name we gave our NGDLE.

Download report (PDF)

Stimuleringsregeling Open en Online Onderwijs 2015

Stimuleringsregeling Open en Online Onderwijs 2015

Vorige week is bekend gemaakt welke van de 45 ingediende projecten dit jaar financiering krijgen van het Ministerie van Onderwijs als onderdeel van de stimuleringsregeling Open en Online Onderwijs 2015. Dit jaar is er 800k euro beschikbaar met een maximum van 100k per project. In totaal zijn er 11 projecten gehonoreerd, waarvan 1 door de TU Delft ingediend. Daarnaast zijn wij betrokken bij het gehonoreerde project van Codarts.

Responsible Innovation

Het TU Delft project dat is goedgekeurd gaat over Responsible Innovation (in Nederland vaak Maatschappelijk Verantwoord Ondernemen (MVO) genoemd:

Our ambition for this project is to develop multipurpose online content and to create flexible learning paths in Responsible Innovation (RI) for different target groups:

  • Our on-campus engineering students;
  • Professionals (engineers/designers/architects and decision makers/executives).

Flexibility means: content, didactics, and assessment/recognition. These will be geared towards the specific needs of the different target groups. RI is a very topical subject and implies a different mind-set on the part of engineers: one of societal engagement and social responsibility. Engineers need professional competences and abilities to improve societal outcomes and to develop appropriate innovative solutions which accommodate core values such as sustainability, privacy, safety and security. This is what the project will address.

Developing flexible learning paths for a broad target group requires capacity building at an institutional level. This is the second main objective of the project. We will share the knowledge we will develop and the implications for institutional polices. In this project, the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management and TU Delft Online Learning (TUDOL) will work closely together.

Wat ik zelf interesant vind aan dit project is dat we ons hierbij niet alleen richten op de traditionele campus studenten, maar ook heel nadrukkelijk op de lifelong learners. Een doelgroep die we als Nederlands HO slecht weten te ondersteunen. Het onderwerp dat wij hierbij gekozen hebben is relevant voor iedereen die zich bezighoudt met innovatie. Een veel gebruikt voorbeeld is van de zelfrijdende auto: wie is er verantwoordelijk bij een ongeluk, maar ook welke keuze moet de auto maken bij een onvermijdelijk botsing.

Naast bovenstaand voorstel, zijn wij betrokken bij het opzetten van een lectoraat bij Codarts op het gebied van online muziektheoretisch onderwijs.


Wat mij opvalt is dat er voornamelijk MOOC-voorstellen (5 van de 11) zijn goedgekeurd. Wij krijgen dus nu MOOCs op het gebied van openbaar bestuur (NHL + HHS), data science (Tilburg + OU), Systeemanalyse en duurzaamheid (WUR) en Voedselveiligheid (WUR). Gezien het feit dat er in Europa nu al bijna 1.250 MOOCs beschikbaar zijn, vraag ik mij af hoe innovatief dat is. Ter illustratie: TU Delft heeft inmiddels al 18 MOOCs ontwikkeld met meer dan 400.000 enrolments.

Vrijwel alle voorstellen zijn erg gericht op het ontwikkelen van content. Ik hoop maar dat ze hierbij de didactiek niet vergeten, want onze ervaring is dat dit veel belangrijker is.

Clash of the Titans

Clash of the Titans

It all started with the publication of the report Preparing for the digital university: a review of the history and current state of distance, blended, and online learning (PDF).  This report is written by George Siemens, Dragan Gašević, and Shane Dawson. The report is based on the research that was funded via the MOOC Research Initiative (MRI).

The report is an interesting read with a lot of useful information. So I would recommend everyone with interest in online education and MOOC to read it. Although the report suggest it gives a complete overview of the history of MOOCs and online education. But the research was limited to the literature that was used for the granted MRI projects.
This gives an interesting perspective of all the MRI researchers. Most of them are (not completely) aware of the history of online education from before 2012.

The Clash

Stephen Downes wrote a review of the report and wrote the bold statement "Having said all that, this is a really bad study". This started a twitter discussion and many interesting blog posts:

The clash still continues and both Stephen and George really are keeping the clash civilised and interesting.

Image is created by Alan Levine (@cogdog) an published on twitter.

Research Symposium on MOOCs

On May 26 2015, the Dutch Vereniging voor Onderwijs Research (VOR) organizes a symposium on research on MOOCs. During a number of presentations you will get an overview of current research into MOOCs and during the afternoon you will have the opportunity to listen to short case presentations by participants regarding research into MOOCs. But you can also provide your own cases to present at the symposium. There is an option on the registration form to indicate you interest in presenting a case.

One of the speakers is my colleague Pieter de Vries. He will talk about who's is the learner:

The Delft University of Technology (TUD) deployed her first generation of massive open online courses (MOOCs) in 2013-2014 delivered through the edX platform. These DelftX MOOCs were engineering courses designed at the level equivalent to that of a bachelor-program entry level. Almost 140 thousand students registered, around 3,7% received certificates of completion, and the rest participated to a degree reflective of their needs. To better understand the experiences of this massive number of learners, and ultimately enhance the MOOCs, TUD conducted the collection and analysis of data about learners and their contexts. This exploratory research focuses on the specific analyses pertinent to describing the demographics of an Engineering MOOC participant, as observed in the first generation of TUD MOOCs. The implications of the observed participant demographics are analysed and discussed.

The symposium will be on the campus of Wageningen University. For full programme and registration follow this link.

OEGlobal: Action Lab MOOCs

CC-BY Jose HekkensYesterday it was my turn to do an action lab on MOOCs. The subtitle was "everything you want to know about MOOCs". For my it was also a good activity to get all our activities together. And it is impressive!

We have 16 MOOCs finished, 4 are running (you can still enrol), 5 new and 7 reruns are in production. So we can say that we have some experience with making MOOCs. We also have more than 400,000 enrolments.

I started the action lab with a short presentation about the TU Delft MOOC activities. The presentation is below. After the slide 21 I had some spare slide I could use to answer questions.


After the presentation I opened it for questions and used our MOOC Development journey to answer questions. I also had the poster of the learning experience flow of our award winning MOOC Delft Design Approach up on the wall. They used this to design their MOOC. They start with the template and use the cards to organise it week by week. All the documents are attached at the bottom of this post.

Sublicensing MOOCs

One of the questions I got was about the sublicensing of MOOCs. My colleague Martijn Ouwehand did a presentation about this subject on Wednesday. His slides are below.

Open Education Awards for TU Delft

Open Education Awards for TU Delft

Yesterday we received three awards at the yearly Open Education Award Ceremony. With these three awards our total comes to 10 awards in the last 4 years. It always is great honour to receive external recognition for the activities of our professors and support staff. It strengthen our mission for open education at TU Delft.


Solving Complex Problems, by Alexander de Haan, is about Complex Multi Actor Systems, ‘spaghetti situations’ in which everything appears to be interlinked and many factors influence each other. Consider, for example, a situation in which new energy technology is introduced into an existing energy market. In such situations, people often talk about solutions, but nobody is exactly sure what the question is, or the best solution. Quantitative and qualitative models can help people understand such complex issues. Course participants will acquire practical tools and methods with which to structure and analyse complex problems.

Open Education Awards for TU Delft
Martijn receives award for the mooc Solving Complex Problems

Delft Design Approach, by Jaap Daalhuizen, has also received an Award of Excellence in the ‘Open MOOC’ category. The Delft Design Approach is a structured approach that helps designers cope with complex design projects – from the formulation of a strategic vision and mapping users and their contexts to developing and selecting meaningful designs for products and services. TU Delft hopes that this MOOC will introduce participants to its own unique approach to design, using several models and design methods, and drawing upon the knowledge and experience of experts from both education and practice. The online course allows participants to compare their results with those of students studying on campus at Delft and designers from the profession.

Open Education Awards for TU Delft
José Hekkens receives award for the mooc Delft Design Approach


The Human Controller, by David Abbink, is a course in the Mechanical Engineering Master’s degree programme. The course material (video lectures, exercises, articles, exam questions, etc.) is freely available as OpenCourseWare (OCW) on the internet. The Open Education Consortium has awarded the course as an ‘Outstanding (OCW) Course’.
The course studies man’s abilities and limits with regard to controlling machines. Various human sensors are explained, and participants learn how muscles work and how movement is coordinated. Man’s ability to control is explained within the context of control technology – a tricky subject that is made somewhat easier by considering examples from the practical situation. Two of the course assignments involve students doing their own experiments to demonstrate that the theory also applies to them. In one of these projects, the students download software that requires them to follow a moving dot with their mouse. This game allows the students to experience just how difficult it can be to control different types of systems, and teaches them how to measure their own control behaviour and construct mathematical models.

Open Education Awards for TU Delft
Martijn receives award for Human Controller course

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