enrolments Archives - Ecolearning

Number of MOOCs we need worldwide

By | Sin categoría, Statistics, Technology in education | No Comments

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.

When are MOOCs truly massive?

By | Completion rate, Ubiquitous learning | No Comments

By Darco Jansen, Programme Manager at EADTU

The ECO project (ECO: Elearning, Communication and Open-data: Massive Mobile, Ubiquitous and Open Learning) provides MOOCs in many European languages. This can be in English but also in Portuguese, French, German, Italian, etc. In the end, ECO want to activate teachers all over Europe to develop their own MOOCs in their own language suitable for their own local context and culture. This raises the question on the massive component of MOOCs. I.e. how many participants are needed to call an online course a MOOC?

To define a MOOC Wikipedia in their definition uses “aimed at unlimited number of participants“. But that may cause problems if the numbers go a lot higher than your technological resources can handle. Next, we also need to take into account the teacher time, i.e. the efforts of academic staff on pay-roll of institution offering the course. As MOOCs are for free it cannot rely heavily on teacher time.

Is there a critial Number of enrollments?

But how many enrolments should a course have to be called a MOOC? The record of number of enrolments for a MOOC until now is 226.652. But that is for a MOOC in the English language. We need to take into account that the number of people speaking good English: 480 million (330 million native + 150 million secondary, source Wikipedia. As such the record MOOC only targets about 0,047%.

Now take a European language less spoken: Lithuanian, with 4.8 million native speakers (3.5 – 4 million source: Lingvo). In order to be as successful as the record-holding MOOC in English, a Lithuanian course should have encompass ca. 2.267 participants. But typically a MOOC in the English language nowadays has about 5.000-50.000. So a typical MOOC in Lithuanian should have about 50 to 500 participants. Ofcourse this strongly depends on other factors as topic, demographic background (people with already a degree), etc.

Should we aim for an unlimited number of participants?

Consequently in the European context we need to be cautious about to fact that a course should be aiming at unlimited number of participants. For that reason the ECO project, together with the HOME project and OpenupEd, proposes that such a course should be designed for large number of participants. Operational criteria for MOOCs could be:

  • Number of participants is larger than can be taught in a ‘normal’ campus class room / college situation (>148 = Dunbar’s ratio)
  • The (pedagogical model of the) course is such that the efforts of all services (including of academic staff on tutoring, tests, etc.) does not increase significantly as the number of participants increases.

Hence, we should grab the opportunities offered by MOOCs and not overley focus on large volumes as observed with MOOCs in the English language. Alternatively we  need to focus on the opportunities that open and online learning movement offer as a means to educate many, ubiquitously in a flexible way, complying with the needs of today’s learners.

Tags: MOOC, massive, enrolments, definition