Open.EdX hackathon

Open.EdX hackathon

As part of the Open Education Week we organised an Open.EdX hackathon. According to Wikipedia a hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest) is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects.
Last June EdX launched Open.EdX, which is the open source platform of EdX. Open.EdX is not only used by the EdX Consortium, but also by many other projects


As part of the hackathon I had arranged that Ned Batchelder, the lead developer of Open.EdX, gave the participants an overview on how to get started. The presentation was done via Google Hangout and is now available on youtube:

I think this presentation is useful for anyone who wants to start with Open.EdX.


The hackathon is the start of the competition. The best submissions will be rewarded at the EdX conference in June. The 20 participants have until the 12th of May to submit their project. I'm looking forward to the projects, because the ideas they had last Friday sounded really interesting and great additions to the platform.

How Video Production Affects Student Engagement

Last year I blogged about the optimal video length for student engagement. The researchers have continued their work with these data.

They classified the 842 videos of 4 EdX courses in four categories:

a.) a recorded classroom lecture,
b.) an instructor’s talking head,
c.) a Khan-style digital tablet drawing (popularized by Khan Academy),
d.) a PowerPoint slideshow.

They then mined the edX server logs to obtain over 6.9 million video watching sessions from almost 128,000 students.

They found 7 main findings:

  1. Shorter videos are much more engaging. Engagement drops sharply after 6 minutes.
  2. Videos that intersperse an instructor’s talking head with PowerPoint slides are more engaging than showing only slides.
  3. Videos produced with a more personal feel could be more engaging than high-fidelity studio recordings.
  4. Khan-style tablet drawing tutorials are more engaging than PowerPoint slides or code screencasts.
  5. Even high-quality prerecorded classroom lectures are not as engaging when chopped up into short segments for a MOOC.
  6. Videos where instructors speak fairly fast and with high enthusiasm are more engaging.
  7. Students engage differently with lecture and tutorial videos.

These finding confirm our statement that we don't want to use collegerama (classroom lecture) recordings in our online courses. It also follows our rule to minimize post-production by putting extra time in good preparation. This is something that teacher have to get used to. They can't make their slides the day before the recording. There is a extensive process in between as shown in the image below.

The full paper can be downloaded from their blog.

Orange Carpet Award 2014

The Orange Carpet Award is a yearly award for projects that promote internationalisation of higher education institutes in the Netherlands. Each year there are 3 projects nominated by a jury. This year the nomimated projects were:

  • Maastricht School of Management - MBA-programme
  • Van Hall Larenstein - Ben Rankenberg
  • TU Delft - DelftX MOOCs

The three project could introduce themselves with a video. Here is the video (in Dutch):

The award is assigned at the yearly Nuffic conference. The conference participants can also vote for the best project. Those votes are combined with the jury verdict and will lead to the winner.

This year my project, the DelftX MOOCs, won the award. The audience and jury were unanimous and selected our project. Next to the eternal fame, we really got a carpet:

Orange Carpet Award

Trendrapport Open Education 2014

Trendrapport Open Education 2014

Alweer de derde editie van het trendrapport geschreven door de SIG Open Education. De vorige edities hadden nog als titel "Trendrapport OER". Deze editie hebben we aangepast naar Open Education. Dit past in een wereldwijde trend en geeft beter aan waar het trendrapport over gaat:

Dit Trendrapport Open Education 2014 beschrijft de trends op het gebied van open education in binnen- en buitenland, geschreven vanuit de context van het Nederlandse hoger onderwijs. Dat gebeurt aan de hand van acht artikelen van Nederlandse experts op het gebied van open en online onderwijs en acht korte intermezzo’s.
Het Trendrapport Open Education 2014 is een uitgave van de special interest group Open Education van SURF. De special interest group faciliteert en bevordert communityvorming, kennisontwikkeling, kennisdeling, samenwerking en visievorming rondom open leermaterialen en open onderwijs binnen het hoger onderwijs in Nederland. Activiteiten van de special interest group worden gecoördineerd door een kernteam van experts uit de instellingen. De special interest group is dus van én voor het hoger onderwijs, en wordt ondersteund door SURF.

Het trendrapport is te downloaden op Daar vindt u ook een link naar de Engelstalige versie.

Het rapport bevat de volgende hoofdstukken:

    door Nicolai van der Woert, Ria van ’t Klooster, Mark Visser en Jody Hoekstra
    door Matthijs Leendertse en Jop Esmeijer
    door Marja Verstelle, Marije Schreuder en Hester Jelgerhuis
    door Meta Keijzer-de Ruijter en Sofia Dopper
    door Martijn Ouwehand en Ria Jacobi
    door Sander Latour en Robert Schuwer
    door Marianne Kaufman en Tim van den Brink
    door Esther Hoorn en Robert Schuwer

Daarnaast bevat het rapport een heel aantal intermezzo's:

  • My (open) education app
  • MOOC-platforms
  • Open education en het semantische web
  • Databronnen over open education en MOOC’s
  • Publicaties
  • Universiteit van Nederland
  • Open education en academic ranking
  • XYOC: varianten op MOOC’s

Het rapport bevat een aantal duidelijke trends voor Open Education:

  • als aanjager voor het verbeteren van de onderwijskwaliteit
  • als aanjager voor flexibilisering in het onderwijs
  • als aanjager voor een leven lang leren
  • als aanjager voor samenwerken
  • als aanjager voor ‘unbundling’
  • als aanjager voor discussie rondom erkennen van online onderwijs

Al met al is dit weer een uitstekend trendrapport en ik raad iedereen aan om dit te lezen.

EdX Announces New Membership Structure

Currently EdX has 32 universities that are member of the xConsortium. EdX noticed a growing demand from foundations, NGO's, business and universities to offer courses on After quiet some discussion with the consortium we have decided on a new membership structure:

EdX, the not-for-profit online learning initiative composed of the 32 charter members of the xConsortium, today announced a new expanded membership structure that will enable additional universities and colleges, foundations and other global organizations to join the edX community. These new members will supplement the distinguished group of colleges and universities that currently make up the xConsortium. The expansion comes in response to increasing demand from edX students for a broader array of courses, along with growing interest from academic and non-academic institutions to offer a diverse set of high quality courses to a global audience on and through the expanding network of edX open source partners.

Full story »

Open Education Week 2014 @ TU Delft

Open Education Week 2014 @ TU Delft

Next week is the third Open Education Week. Open Education Week is a series of events to increase awareness of open education movement. There are both online and offline events around the world. Through the events and resources, we hope to reach out to more people to demonstrate what kind of opportunities open education has created and what we have to look forward to.

TU Delft

At our university will will organise three events. The events are free to join, but you have register:

  • March 12th Lunch Launch: Delft Extension School (12:30 - 14:00h, Hive, TU Library).Rob Fastenau, e-Dean of the Delft Extension School, will tell you something about the activities of the Delft Extension School and the possibilities of online worldwide education. Feel free to ask questions and discuss any online education subject.

  • March 13th MOOC Workshop (12:00 - 13:30h, Snijderszaal, Faculty of EEMCS) One of our first DelftX MOOC teachers, Dr. ir. Arno Smets (MOOC Solar Energy)will share his experience in MOOC making. He challenges you to think about what MOOCs can or cannot mean for you.

  • March 14th, edX Hackathon (15.00 - 21.00, Hive, TU Library) With the support of an edX developer and free pizza, students and staff are challenged to develop a concept and make a prototype of a new or improved functionality of the Open Source MOOC platform of edX.

On Tuesday we are also participating in the Dutch Symposium Open en Online Education and the Nuffic Jaarcongres 2014.

Learning with MOOCs: A Practitioner’s Workshop – Call for Papers

Learning with MOOCs: A Practitioner’s Workshop – Call for Papers

MOOCs have gone from a distant idea to a global phenomenon in less than five years. During this period MOOCs have innovated at a dazzling speed in content creation, delivery, feedback, testing and other aspects of the knowledge delivery process. The excitement of MOOCs has been the promise of learning at scale. As a result, the primary focus of the design of MOOCs to date has been on “scale”. We believe it is now time to focus our attention on the design for learning.

This workshop plans to bring together the educators, technologists, researchers, learning scientists, entrepreneurs, and funders of MOOCs to share their innovations, discuss the impact on education and to answer questions such as: How to best support students to learn in an online environment? How can MOOCs be successfully integrated with the traditional classroom experience? For which students and in what contexts are these courses most effective? What can we learn from the rich data streams generated by these platforms? How do we structure the learning activities to produce data streams that better support research?

Topics include, but are not restricted to:

  • Creating and teaching with MOOCs 
  • Open content /open licensing and MOOCs
  • Novel pedagogical processes with MOOCs
  • Tools for collaboration, feedback, testing and content delivery
  • Best practices in MOOCs
  • Learning from experiments with MOOCs (including both successes and failures)
  • Metrics of success for learners and instructors of MOOCs
  • On campus use of MOOCs
  • Evaluation of MOOCs
  • Learning analytics and MOOCs
  • Interactive activities in MOOCs
  • Challenges facing MOOCs
  • Expanding the learner community with MOOCs
  • Learning research based on MOOCs
  • Key research challenges

We invite practitioners interested in coming together to discuss these issues to submit a one page description of work they have done in a MOOC including something interesting that they have learned through their work that they believe would be valuable to share with others and/or a question or challenges that they confronted that they would like to have others discuss.

Key Dates:

  • Monday, March 31, 2014: Submission deadline (midnight, PST)
  • Monday, April 21, 2014: Acceptance notification
  • Thursday, May 1, 2014: Preregistration opens
  • Tuesday-Wednesday, August 12-13, 2014: Conference

The submissions procedure will be available soon at

Interactive visualization tools for MOOC data

Harvard and MIT have made a suite of open source interactive visualization tools for the data of moocs. This is a follow up of their release of a series of working papers:

The technologies, dubbed Insights, draw upon near real-time, de-identified data of course registrants, dynamically updating at frequent intervals.

Developed collaboratively by Sergiy Nesterko, a Research Fellow at HarvardX, and Daniel Seaton, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at MIT’s Office of Digital Learning, the tools showcase the potential promise of “big data” generated from massively open online courses (MOOCs) to help advance learning science.

Harnessing information on 1,055,562 total registrants, the tools provide an intuitive way to review individual courses across a number of metrics, including global enrollment, certificate attainment, gender and age composition, and education levels, all viewable country-by-country on a world map. The tools also feature HarvardX-wide and MITx-wide statistics. 

“These tools provide our faculty and course developers, as well as the general public, usable, visually interpretable data from course offerings in near-real time,” says Nesterko. “This can help to guide instruction while courses are running and deepen our understanding of the impact of courses after they are complete.”

For example, Insights shows how HarvardX and MITx course registrations from China, highlighting how technical barriers such as the blocking of YouTube and firewalls influence participation. In addition, the tools can shed light on common claims like MOOCs serving primarily male, highly educated students. It turns out to be less black and white, as there is dramatic variability in gender and education across different countries and courses.

“Our hope is that these tools will be useful to everyone, including researchers, journalists, course developers, and the public, for the purpose of understanding how these courses work and who our students are,” says Seaton.

Moreover, the code is open source and the aggregated datasets are downloadable, allowing interested users to modify and build upon existing functionality. In the future, the pair plans to expand the Insights toolkit to include distinctions between “auditors” and “enrollees.”

The tools can be viewed here:

European MOOC Summit 2014

European MOOC Summit 2014

Last week I attended the second European MOOC Summit in Lausanne and I was not the only one. More than 400 attendees from a lot of different countries, not only European. There were 20 participants from the Netherlands. The conference was held in the Rolex building on the EPFL campus.

Although the conference was about MOOCs, the discussion was as much about online learning. Their were four tracks at the conference:

  • Policy
  • Experience
  • Research
  • Business

The conference had good and interesting keynotes. I personally didn't like the the setup of the parallel tracks. That were very long session with multiple presentations with limited interaction and not easy to switch within a session.

During the conference I tweeted  a lot. My tweets can be found in my tweet archive. Summit proceedings are available online (PDF, 294 pages), video recordings of keynotes will follow soon.

Other interesting blogs about the conference:

The NMC Horizon Report 2014

New Media Consortium (NMC) and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) recently released  the NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Higher Education Edition. This eleventh edition describes annual findings from the NMC Horizon Project, an ongoing research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in education. They’ve also released this video summary:

Interest is to see the developments NMC Horizon has identified over the last couple of years:

Time to adoption
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Now-1 year Mobile Computing Mobile devices Mobile apps Tablet Computing Flipped Classroom
Now-1 year Open Content E-books Tablet Use
MOOC Learning Analytics
2-3 yr Elektronic Books Augmented Reality Game Based Learning Game based Learning 3D Printing
2-3 yr Simple Augmented Reality Game based Learning Learning Analytics Big Data & Learning Analytics Games & Gamification
4-5 yr Gesture Based Computing Gesture Based Computing Gesture based computing 3D printing Qualified Self
  Visual Data Learning Analytics Internet of things Wearable Technology Visual Assistants

The six trends featured in the report were selected by the project’s expert panel in a series of Delphi-based voting cycles, each followed by an additional round of desktop research and

Fast Trends: Driving changes in higher education over the next one to two years

  • Growing Ubiquity of Social Media
    For educational institutions, social media enables twoway dialogues between students, prospective students, educators, and the institution that are less formal than with other media. As social networks continue to flourish, educators are using them as professional communities of practice, as learning communities, and as a platform to share interesting stories about topics students are studying in class. Understanding how social media can be leveraged for social learning is a key skill for teachers, and teacher training programs are increasingly being expected to include this skill.

  • Integration of Online, Hybrid, and Collaborative Learning
    Education paradigms are shifting to include more online learning, blended and hybrid learning, and collaborative models. Students already spend much of their free time on the Internet, learning and exchanging new information. Institutions that embrace face-to-face, online, and hybrid learning models have the potential to leverage the online skills learners have already developed independent of academia. Online learning environments can offer different affordances than physical campuses, including opportunities for increased collaboration while equipping students with stronger digital skills. Hybrid models, when designed and implemented successfully, enable students to travel to campus for some activities, while using the network for others, taking advantage of the best of both environments.

Mid-Range Trends: Driving changes in higher education within three to five years

  • Rise of Data-Driven Learning and Assessment
    In online environments especially, students and professors are generating a large amount of learning-related data that could inform decisions and the learning process, but work remains on structuring appropriate policies to protect student privacy.

  • Shift from Students as Consumers to Students as Creators
    A shift is taking place in the focus of pedagogical practice on university campuses all over the world as students across a wide variety of disciplines are learning by making and creating rather than from the simple consumption of content. Creativity, as illustrated by the growth of user-generated videos, maker communities, and crowdfunded projects in the past couple years, is increasingly the means for active, hands-on learning. University departments in areas that have not traditionally had lab or hands-on components are
    shifting to incorporate hands-on learning experiences as an integral part of the curriculum. Courses and degree plans across all disciplines at institutions are in the process of changing to reflect the importance of media creation, design, and entrepreneurship.

Long-Range Trends: Driving changes in higher education in five or more years

  • Agile Approaches to Change
    There is a growing consensus among many higher education thought leaders that institutional leadership and curricula could benefit from agile startup models. Educators are working to develop new approaches and programs based on these models that stimulate top-down change and can be implemented across a broad range of institutional settings.

  • Evolution of Online Learning
    Over the past several years, there has been a shift in the perception of online learning to the point where it is seen as a viable alternative to some forms of face-to-face learning. The value that online learning offers is now well understood, with flexibility, ease of access, and the integration of sophisticated multimedia and technologies chief among the list of appeals. Recent developments in business models are upping the ante of innovation in these digital environments, which are now widely considered to be ripe for new ideas, services, and products. While growing steadily, this trend is still a number of years away from its maximum impact. Progress in learning analytics, adaptive learning, and a combination of cutting-edge asynchronous and synchronous tools will continue to advance the state of online learning and keep it compelling, though many of these are still the
    subjects of experiments and research by online learning providers and higher education institutions.


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