ASK THE EXPERT: What does the future hold for MOOCs?

By Syed Munib Hadi, Head of Academic Innovation Hub at the University of Derby

MOOCs have seen a gradual transformation. After the initial hike in interest, we are seeing them being utilised as pathways to higher education. With recent UK universities awarding credits for studying MOOCs this offers a glimpse into the future where we will be seeing more and more credit-bearing MOOCs that are integrated as pathways to traditional higher education qualifications.

Brand awareness and student recruitment still dominate the sector approach to MOOC development. At the University of Derby our approach is to utilise MOOCs for social impact and workforce development at a mass scale. We are unique within the sector as we quality assure our MOOCs in the same way that we validate our credit and fee-bearing programmes ensuring our learners get similar quality learning experience. We were recently awarded the OpenupEd Quality label by review for our MOOCs.

OpenupEd is the only quality assurance framework available for MOOCs and has been developed by the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU), the European association of leading institutions in online, open and flexible higher education.

European Universities are now taking far more interest in sustainable MOOC development than their US counterparts. We are seeing more initiatives to recognise MOOC credit earned by learners at partnering institutions. Even federal governments like Malaysia and Jordan are recognising the role MOOCs can play in upskilling at a mass scale. 

The Indian Government has recently announced Swayam MOOCs platform that aims to have 2,000 courses on offer. The initiative is backed by government legislation that allows for transfer of credits earned through these courses into the academic record of the students in their parent learning provider. So what does the immediate future hold for the MOOC? 

  • Credit-bearing MOOCs
  • Cross institutional partnership for recognising MOOCs credits. 

We will see more initiatives by government and agencies in developing countries to tackle skills shortage and workforce development through MOOCs. Credit-sharing mechanisms will be developed that will recognise MOOCs credit both at National and International level. The possibility of degree qualifications based entirely on MOOCs cannot be ruled out.

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