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ECO Project Webinar on “Sustainable Business models for MOOCs: the need for cross-institutional cooperation” on Sep 28

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Business models for MOOCs – realistic and sustainable. Is that possible? We think so, and we’d like to share our points of view. If you want to increase your expertise in the matter,  do not miss the next ECO Project webinar  on 28 September 2016, 10:30-12:00 CEST.  Hosted by EADTU, a series of ECO Project experts will lecture on the wide range of opportunities provided by MOOCs as a globally integrated tool for education-focused business.


Simply provide your name and email here to join the webinar. When using Clickmeeting app for smartphones or tablets you need to provide the following Room-ID 389-241-428 (and for some apps also Participant PIN 967889#). Note that the webinar will be recorded.

Agenda of the webinar
10:30-10:45:   Introduction on MOOCs, their European dimension and ECO project
by Darco Jansen (EADTU)

10:45-11:00:    How to make / keep MOOC provision sustainable?
– overview possible business models from different stakeholders perspectives
– what services should / must be provided at a decentralised level and what at a
centralised level
by Darco Jansen (EADTU)

11:00-11:15:    Promotion of social inclusion and intercultural values through ECO decentralized models
by Angela Benavides Barahona (UNED)

11:15-11:30:    ECO MOOC offering at decentralised MOOC level: services on pedagogical approach
and quality assurance
by Divina Meigs (U Paris 3-Sorbonne)

11:30-11:45:    An overview of the ECO architecture
– how did we manage to integrate 6 different MOOC platforms?
– how can you plug your own MOOC platform into this architecture?
by Kjeld Loozen (Reimer IT Solutions B.V.)

11:45-12:00:   How to become a business partner of ECO
by Vicente Montiel Molina (Tabarca Consulting)

Inside eco: how we blog

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Why we organised internal webinars
Blog tool for teachers
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A report in photos

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Number of MOOCs we need worldwide

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By Darco Jansen, Programme Manager at EADTU

The ECO project is running for 3  years from February 2014 until January 2017. The coming period we will launch more MOOCs by ECO partners (so called second and third iterations). In the final project year we will select about 4.000 teachers who will be able to create their own MOOCs. At the end we are aiming for the provision of minimal 500 MOOCs.

Currently Europe diposes of 1014 MOOCs (see European MOOC Scoreboard). Globally this number is over 4000 MOOCs. But how many do we actually need? Let us figure out ratios that make sense.

Need for tertiary education

Nearly one-third of the world’s population (29.3%) is under 15. Today there are 165 million people enrolled in post-highchool tertiary education. Projections suggest that participation will increase significantly the coming years with a peak at 263 million in 2025. Accommodating the additional 98 million students would require more than 4 major universities (30,000 students) to open every week for the next 15 years.

Are MOOCs a solution to world’s need for tertiary education? It is favourable to be ambitious and try and calculate the number of MOOCs you need to educate these additional 98 million students.  To be able to do this, let us make make the following assumptions:

  1. A master is 60-120 ECTS or about 20 to 40 courses of 3 ECTS or an average of 30 courses of 3 ECTS each.
  2. If a student wishes to complete a master in 4 to 10 years (on average 6 years). Consequently every student each year should complete 5 HE courses of 3 ECTS each and that over the course of 6 (consequitive) years.
  3. Over a period of 15 years 2,5 sstudent (15years/6years) has the need for 5 HE courses each year
  4. If the goal is to educate 98 million students to a master level for the next 15 years. Hence each year we need to offer about (5*98.000.000/2,5)= 196.000.000 certificates of HE course of 3 ECTS.
  5. Each MOOC (on average) attracts 25.000 participants of which 10% (2.500) complete successfully. So about 2.500 gets a certificate that counts for as a Masters Degree (ECTS credit). So with 1 MOOC we are able to issue a certificate to 2.500 participants. If we were to offer 1X MOOC 4 times a year, this equals 10.000 certificates.

In conclusion: the total number of MOOCs to accomplish this ca. 196.000.000/10.000 MOOCs = 19.600 MOOCs.

How can this be achieved?

A. 4 Major universities (30,000 students) to open, every week for the next 15 years

B. Develop 19.600 MOOCs that offer ECTS credits to 10.000 students each year

But this thought experiment brings upon another question. Rory McGreal during EMOOCs, 2014 in Lausanne questioned why we are not changing educational model and increase number of students? The answer to thi question is partly answered in this article on the ECO platform.

In line with the above reasoning, with 45,000 MOOCs is is theoretically possible to issue 450.000.000 certificates each year and therefore educate 15% of the world population to a master (> 1 billion). In 2010 on average the OECD countries spent about 1,6% of their GDB on their tertiary education (see Education at a Glance, 2013). Imagine what would happen if only 1% of that budget is spent  by countries on the development and exploitation of MOOCs.

Although some state that education is not a mass customer industry (see for example Five myths about MOOCs ), one can (and must ) question how the need for affordable tertiary education can be provided.

The optimal solution is probably to continue opening universities (both traditional and distance teaching), as well as to encourage universities to develop high quality MOOCs. Given that we find ways that assist universities in aligning their MOOCs with their business models, the consequence will be better higher education for more people.

We already have produced more than 4000 MOOCs in three years. To accelerate this (and for economic reasons), ECO suggests to start re-using MOOCs for education in other languages and cultures instead of developing more and more from scratch. In the ECO project we are also focusing on open licence to support re-use and we will train teacher such that they will be able to develop MOOCs. From the 23rd of March 2015 the MOOC Design course will be available on the ECO Portal.

Let us seize the moment the opportunity.

Even online students need to feel part of a group

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ECO has set high standards when it comes to pass rates for students on their MOOCs. One of the challenges we face in online learning is the high drop-out rate. In this phase of our own internet evolution, users are becoming more and more conscious of how they can scan the internet, scout, sign up, but also opt-out. To truly engage online is quite a task that keeps the minds occupied of many commercially orientated internet players, like retailers. Some succeed, some are less productive, however it is not always necessary to have 100% engaged users. With only 10% of potential customers retaining their attention on just 1 product, will probably satisfy the needs of the busines model.

In online education it is hardly imaginable that superficially engaged users or temporarily engaged users will result in sustainable learning. So how do you create a motivation that lasts for at least several weeks the students spends online? Will it be money he or she spends? No, because the MOOCs that we offer within the project´s 3 year time frame will be freely accessible by anyone within the European Union. Will it be quality? Although we believe that we will offer the highest possible quality, we understand that that in itself does not create a prerequisite for engagement.

In our consortium´s Document of Work (DOW) the words ´social channels´ and ´social inclusion´ appear a number of times, the latter referring to including to including social groups into the student group who otherwise would not have access to these teachings in a physical classroom. Students who are in a hospital for instance or students that live in remote areas or cannot leave their home.

In their article ´Even in a MOOC, Students Want to Belong´* by Lisa Thomas and James Herbert published on September 4 on the Australian website and thought leadership platform Social Science Space, the authors comment on social inclusion as an motivational component in online learning. The researched what matters to students in an online context to keep them focused and engaged in their learning process and ” found that “sense of belonging” was one aspect deemed to be important.” The authors go on to investigate what elements the course in itself should contain ranging from debate options, to embedding collaborative asigments part of the course and assessment. Additionally the teacher has a possibility to create a certain outreach directly to students by means of “electronic office hours and `[…], creating announcements”.

The authors recap their research by stating that online courses must not necesarrily force the social cohesion strategy upon students who prefer just to stick to the course content. This part of the potential student population may in fact not be in need of the sense of belonging to stick to the course and gear up the course completion rate. Or possibly they are in part the ones who will drop out eventually.

Whatever the reason, at ECO we need to provide answers and counter measures for all potential scenarios and not forget the teacher for that matter either.


Checklist: how do you choose suitable MOOC platform?

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The state of the art review of MOOCs and their platforms conducted by the partners of the ECO project at the Lisbon meeting in June/July, revealed the need for analysing this complex emerging field of online learning by means of a systematic procedure and suitable tools. With this purpose in mind the ECO project developed a checklist designed to capture the features, benefits and any possible deficiencies of MOOCs as well as to compare platforms and assess them on their educational scope and impact.

This checklist provides a set of standard questions to evaluate MOOC platforms and services along dimensions that are relevant from mainly pedagogical aspects and moreover including technological aspects. The checklist is arranged in ten categories:

  1. Introduction to evaluation
  2. General information
  3. Economic structural factors
  4. Technology
  5. Accessibility
  6. Communication and interaction
  7. Goals, content and resources
  8. Assignments
  9. Assessments
  10. Pedagogical principles

This checklist has been used to evaluate both the MOOC platforms that are being used in the ECO project: OpenMOOC, WeMOOC, ARLearn, iMOOC, Open Edx Politecnico, as well as several other MOOC platforms: Coursera, Udacity, MiríadaX, OpenCourseWare-MIT, Futurelearn, Iversity that are beingcommonly used.

The results of the checklist have been verified by actually logging into the ECO MOOC platforms and creating a MOOC to ascertain whether the available features support the ECO pedagogical model of networked learning.

It turned out almost none of the MOOC platforms can accommodate networked learning, although the selected ECO MOOC platforms fit the pedagogical model better than the other MOOC platforms. Most platforms very much adhere to the knowledge transfer model and lack the features to actively engage the learners in social interaction, learning by doing, in situated activities in authentic contexts.

Detailed information about the checklist and results of the evaluation can be found in ‘D 2.1 Analysis of existing MOOC platforms and services’ that is available from the ECO project website, section Deliverables.

What is the MOOC Scoreboard?

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The European MOOCs Scoreboard is a regular monitoring register of MOOCs in Europe. Its aim is “to highlight the huge potential that European institutions have in the world of MOOCs and to help visualize this potential by compiling the existing European-provided MOOCs available on different open websites”.

Several projects as ECO and EMMA are promoting and organising European MOOCs. Everybody could look for other MOOCs in the MOOCs aggregator. If you are interested on future issues, register in ECO newsletter. For any collaboration, contact us.

ECO: Elearning, Communication and Open-data: Massive Mobile, Ubiquitous and Open Learning (27 y 28 febrero 2014)

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ECO: Elearning, Communication and Open-data: Massive Mobile, Ubiquitous and Open Learning (27 y 28 febrero 2014),36242433&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL