Leiden University investing in new online courses
In the coming years Leiden University’s Executive Board will be investing 1.4 million euros in the production of new online courses. In 2015 and 2016, a total of 15 new MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) and 10 new SPOCs (Small Private Online Courses) will be introduced.
All around the world, online courses have become an essential element of university education. With this major investment in online education, Leiden University is highlighting the current and future role of this form of higher education. The University is also making a contribution to important social developments by making high-value academic knowledge available throughout the world. The MOOCs and SPOCs being developed in Leiden are used not only by students, but also by many professionals. The difference is that MOOCs are open to everyone, while SPOCs are only accessible to a select group of participants.
Since 2013, Leiden University has developed six online courses: five MOOCs and one SPOC. The MOOCs on the international Coursera platform have attracted a total of more than 200,000 participants from 186 different countries. That means an average of 10,000 participants per month.
In its first Online Learning Report, Leiden University evaluates the online courses from 2013–2014. The report shows that MOOCs and SPOCs create new possibilities for both on- and off-campus education. MOOCs stimulate instructors and students to innovate, and they make a valuable contribution to the regular degree programmes. Students have the opportunity to collaborate with participants from all over the world in a ‘global classroom’. For researchers, online courses offer a laboratory for conducting research on a worldwide scale for an international audience.
Leiden University uses its Online Learning Lab to improve students’ learning experience and to continue innovating MOOCs. The Online Learning Lab will explore and further develop new innovative forms of online education. Examples of these include so-called ‘flipping classrooms’, short video presentations and virtual international classrooms and research using elements such as Big Data. Online learning can capitalise on the increasing demand for ‘life-long learning’. For example, by developing complete online master’s programmes the University can serve new target groups. Participants also have more flexibility in working towards their degree.
(4 December 2014 / CR)