Wow! Europe embraces MOOCs

EMMA was at the HOME conference in Rome, on Monday November 30th. Home is one of EMMA’s sister EU-funded projects, working to develop and strengthen European collaboration on MOOCs. The event was by invitation only, and included leading exponents in the field of MOOCs and online education in the European Higher Education Area. Participants submitted position papers beforehand in diverse thematic areas, including Regional MOOC initiatives; Media coverage; Selecting a MOOC platform; Business Models and Pedagogical Approaches.


The aim of the conference was to use these position papers as a springboard for a group brainstorm around these issues, and to use the conclusions of the discussion as input for the Rome Declaration on European MOOCs, which will be presented to the European Commission in December. The papers will be reviewed and published as an e-book.

A representative of the Italian Ministry of Education in his opening speech stressed the geopolitical strategy informing online HE policy and highlighted the role of education in narrowing gaps between countries and addressing issues of security and social integration. Marc Brown, Head of the National Centre for Digital Learning in Ireland, also suggested that MOOCs were on a political trajectory, and were not on an independent trajectory but one that regarded the future of Higher Education. He urged us “to think of MOOCs in the service of the big idea but not as the big idea itself”

Darco Jansen, head of EADTU, previewed some results of their 2015 survey into MOOC strategies in Europe. Interest in delivering MOOCs is still high in Europe with 60% of institutions planning a MOOC in the near future as against only 14% in America. Main drivers were still institutional visibility, but reaching out to new students with more flexible educational offerings also scored high. This trend was tangible at the conference, with the showcasing of several successful, local or national MOOC initiatives including Iceland, Lithuania and Denmark to name but a few. The challenge remains, once again, whether, and how to integrate these diverse initiatives within a larger European framework.

Home2_posterCengiz Hakan Aydin from Anadolu University, Turkey presented a series of literature-based recommendations for joint initiatives: platforms must support multiple languages; collaboration between institutions for shared services; shared quality standards and marketing strategies to disseminate each other’s MOOC offerings; the importance of developing new online pedagogies rather than simply replicating what we do on-campus; use and reuse of OER.

Rosanna De Rosa and Ruth Kerr from the University of Naples represented EMMA. Their paper offered a reflection on the uberisation of teaching and changing teacher roles in the MOOCs scenario. The conference offered interesting networking opportunities for EMMA and we hope to see more partners joining the EMMA community and experiment as a result.

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