Yesterday I attend the policy forum on European MOOCs organised by the HOME project. This was the third event of the HOME project I attended after Porto and Rome. In 22 presentation we got a good overview of policy for MOOCs on European, governmental and institutional level. The presentators submitted 19 papers.
Category: "Open Education"
Last week EADTU published the report MOOCs in Europe. This report is an overview of papers representing a collective European response on MOOCs as presented during the HOME conference in Rome November 2015. This report is published as part of the project HOME - Higher education Online: MOOCs the European way. The project is ending this month with a policy meeting on the 28th of June in Brussels.
The report includes 31 papers in 6 categories:
- Part 1: Regional MOOC initiatives (3 papers)
- Part 2: Role media exposure on MOOC development (2)
- Part 3: Supporting the selection of MOOC platforms (8)
- Part 4: Business models European MOOCs (5)
- Part 5: Pedagogical approaches in European MOOCs (8)
- Part 6: Shared services in European MOOC context (5)
The paper about the business model of TU Delft Extension School is included in part 4.
Interesting to see is the diversity of authors that have written the reports. They representing institutes in 18 countries (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Korea, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey and UK). Although some large European countries (France and Germany) are not included.
- Jansen, Darco; Konings, Lizzie (2016). MOOCs in Europe. ISBN 978-90-79730-19-3
This fall we offer 6 new great MOOCs for learners around the world. They are now all open for enrolment on Edx.
- Sustainable Energy: Design a Renewable Future (starts September 6)
Learn how to make the transition to 100% renewable energy from wind, solar and biomass for electricity, heat and fuels for a sustainable future.
- Design Practice in Business (starts August 29)
Learn the essentials of design practice for developing new business opportunities and sparking innovation.
- Observation Theory: Estimating the Unknown (starts in October)
Learn how to estimate parameters from observational data for real-world engineering applications and assess the quality of the results.
- Quantum Cryptography (starts October 10)
Learn how quantum communication provides security that is guaranteed by the laws of nature. (together with CalTech)
- Understanding Nuclear Energy (starts in October)
Learn the science and technology behind nuclear energy and the special features of this energy source.
- Project Management of Engineering Projects: Preparing for Success (starts in October)
Create your own project plan and learn the importance of the early project phases in achieving project success. People are key!
Currently we also have eight courses open as self-paced courses and we are running most of our courses for second, third and fourth time.
This brings the total to 35 MOOCs (including 2 XSeries) and 62 runs. In the next couple of months we will reach the one millionste enrolment!
Yesterday the JRC IPTS published the report OpenCases: Case Studies on Openness in Education. This report is the final outcome of the study OpenCases: case studies on openness in education. The study was carried out by the IPTS in collaboration with the University of Bath as part of the OpenEdu project. The report is based on interviewees with inside knowledge of their organisations. There are 9 cases in this report of these organisations/projects around Europe.
- ETH Zurich
- France Université Numérique (french mooc platform)
- OER Universitas (OERu
- TU Delft
- Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M)
- Open AGH E-Textbooks
- Virtual University of Bavaria (BVU)
I was one of the interviewees for the TU Delft case and think they have done a great job in composing the report and our case.
Last month researchers from the University of Washington published an article about MOOC usage for professional workforce development outcomes in Colombia, the Philippines, & South Africa. There were a couple of news sites that used this article to say that students from developing countries have a high completion rate in MOOCs. To me that didn't seem like a logical conclusion, so I asked our very smart data analyst Sara Topolovec if we could see the same behaviour in our data set of MOOC enrolments.
There are two sets of data to look at:
- our surveys include questions that are similar to those of the UW research
- platform data
If we look at the survey data (for 10 courses), the results are:
- 80% of both groups of students (developing and developed countries) reported they had taken an online course before;
- 12% of students from developed countries that had taken an online course before, never completed any course, and 16% from developing, which means that
- 88% of students from developed countries that had taken an online course before state they completed at least one course, and 84% of students from developing countries.
Here we see that many students actually completed at least one course in both groups, but overall percentages are still slightly “in favour” of students from developing countries.
If we look at the platform data (example of one course):
- The average grade of developing countries is 3,73% vs. 5,55% for developed, and the passing rate is 2,93% vs. 5,26%.
- There are more students from developing countries that hadn’t really started the MOOC (i.e. had a grade = 0), 91% vs. 87%, but even among those that did (grade > 0), the average grade is lower (36% vs 40%), as well as passing rates (32% vs. 47%).
- Only when you look only at people who received a certificate, the average grade is basically the same.
Because Sara is very good, she also had some comments about shortcomings of the original research:
- It tries to compare the result of their survey about completing any course ever to per-course completion rates. While it acknowledges that they don’t really have the actual data for comparison, it is still misleading to mention it alongside it, because in reality, it doesn’t tell us anything. They have no idea how many students in general completed at least one course already in developed countries.
- The comparison is problematic even further because of very different sources of information. While the completion rates are actual, true numbers, the survey is an estimate, that can be largely biased. We know that more students that receive a certificate in the end complete even the pre-survey (compared to the actual passing rates), which may also be true in this case, i.e. more engaged students completing their survey.
- Also, they compare their “completion” to per-course “completion rates”. But, our completion rates are actually certification rates, while their “completion” is completing the course with not necessarily receiving a certificate. Furthermore, students may understand very differently, what does it mean to complete a course, possibly connected to their intentions. We have no idea how many students in our courses would say they completed the course. So this is another point why these numbers can hardly be compared to the regular “completion rates”.
- On a per-course basis, the number of “registrants” is rather high (usually only around 50% of students does anything in our courseware), which is very far from the 2% of “registrants” they identified in their sample, which further shows that their completion numbers and course completion numbers can hardly be comparable.
- Their study is conducted only on people between 18-35 years old. As we know there are many students above 30 (30 is usually the median) in our courses, this is hardly representative of all MOOC users.
The researchers based their conclusion solely on self-reported survey data, but tried to compare their result to actual per-course completion rates, which creates a false sense that students from developing countries actually complete more courses than their peers from developed countries. While the high completion rates among students from developing countries may still be a surprise, it is important to keep in mind what we are actually looking at. Both platform data and survey data of ours revealed that somewhat more students from developed countries complete courses, or receive a certificate. In most of our research we combine the survey data with the platform data to get more accurate results and less user bias.
Two weeks ago the OE Global Conference in Krakow I got re-elected by the members of the consortium. It is a honour to serve on the board of directors. Next to me Sophie Touzé got also re-elected. We also welcomed four new board members:
- Papa Youga Dieng, Organisation internationale de la Francophonie
- Barbara Illowsky, Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources
- Allyn Radford, Corporate member
- Naoko Tosa, Japan OCW Consortium
With the new board members it shows the international aspect of our board. We have board members from all over the world. Since the start of the consortium this has always been the case. Last year we formalised this in the by-laws:
The Consortium desires a strong, internationally diverse board of directors. Election results may be weighted to ensure representation from different regions of the world. In this case, the weighting of results shall be set by the nominating committee and disclosed to members in advance.
Source: OEC By-laws
The Open Education Consortium has more than 250 members from 45 countries (At the conference we had participants from 38 countries):
I can recommend any organisation (not only universities) that supports open education to join the consortium. The fees are moderate and you join the global network of educational institutions, individuals and organizations that support an approach to education based on openness, including collaboration, innovation and collective development and use of open educational materials. The activities we do:
- Awareness raising
- Networking and community development
- Advocacy and advising
- Capacity building and training
- Implementation support
Want to join? You can contact me or one of the other board members of contact the OEC staff.
As part of the Opening Up Europe intiative the European Commission has started a project OpenEdu at their own research centre IPTS in Seville. At #OEGlobal Andreia Inamorato dos Santos gave an insightful presentation about the results of the project. Many of the reports will be published this year.
Defining Open Education
Andreia started with defining Open Education. The definition they adopted is focusing on removing barriers:
This definition is a very broad one, but I think it has the right focus:
- not only digital technologies, although that is the most common form.
- learning not only accessible, but also ambundant and customisable
- not only formal, but also non-formal education and bridiging this
An important part of the project is the OpenEdu Framework. This framework should support higher education institutions to adopt and implement Open Education. The framework is build on 6 core dimensions and 4 transversal dimensions. For each dimension of open education, the framework brings a definition, a rationale and components with descriptors.
- 6 Core: access, content, pedagogy, recognition, collaboration, research
- 4 transversal: strategy, leadership, technology, quality
The dimensions seem logical and usually that is a good thing. I'm looking forward to the publication of the full report.
For the maturity of Open Education it is important that we get more solid research evidence about the open education and its value for policy maker, instructors, and students. In my previous blog I already mentioned the Open Educuation Group, another group of researchers that is doing some great work is the OER Hub of the Open University. At the OEGlobal conference I attended a session of the this group about the Open Research Agenda.
This activity is focused on forming a better understanding of research needs in open education. To do this, they published a survey (please submit!) and did sessions at #OEGlobal and #OER16 to collect information about research priorities. The results will be shared in the form of a report.
The researchers of OER Hub will not do all the research questions that will be mentioned in the report. Any researcher can work on the items in the agenda. The more the better I would say!
On the last day of the OEGlobal Conference Martijn Ouwehand and I gave a workshop on Open Course Design. This workshop is designed for teachers to help them create a course design in which they use OER.
Normally the target audience are teachers that are OER novice but are interested in help with their course design. So the workshop also introduces them in Open Education.
Below are the slides we used during the workshop. This workshop will be part of the offerings of our training programme for instructors.
An often heard comment is that OpenTextBooks can't be as good as commercial textbooks. At the OE Global Conference John Hilton III presented the result of synthesis of Sixteen OER Studies. John is working for the Open Education Group. The Open Education Group is an interdisciplinary research group that conducts original, rigorous empirical research on the impact of OER adoption on a range of educational outcomes and designs and shares methodological and conceptual frameworks for studying the impact of OER adoption.
His presentation is based on an article that is published in the journal Educational Technology Researcy and Development. The conclusion of the article is very clear:
The collective results of the 16 studies discussed in this article provide timely information given the vast amount of money spent on traditional textbooks. Because students and faculty members generally find that OER are comparable in quality to traditional learning resources, and that the use of OER does not appear to negatively influence student learning, one must question the value of traditional textbooks.
So if OpenTextBooks don't have a negative impact on the learning outcomes, the argument to use them becomes much stronger. OpenTextBooks saves students a lot of money and that is positive in times that education becomes more and more expensive for students.