The opportunity that Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) offer for cost effective massification of learning has generated significant interest from governments, higher education institutions (HEI) and commercial organisations. A growing number of HEI have been involved in experimenting with MOOCs for the purposes of expanding access, marketing and branding, as well as the potential of developing new revenue streams. The motivation for some MOOC providers is a philanthropic one and for others a business proposition. However, in both cases, there is the challenge of finding a viable business model that allows for sustainability of MOOC provision.
This paper will use the theory of disruptive innovation (Bower and Christensen, 1995) to examine MOOCs development and how their approach could be used to help institutions explore innovative approaches for teaching and learning and to develop new business models in order to gain competitive advantages in the education market. MOOCs provide institutions with a vehicle to think creatively and innovatively to explore new business models and flexible learning paths in HE provision. However, there is a need to rethink current higher education structures and policies and working practices that obstruct innovation. This includes funding arrangements and the ability to disaggregate teaching from assessment and accreditation for differential pricing and pursuit of marketing activities.
This article was originally published by F.H.T. de Langen and M.E. Bitter-Rijkema on the online Journal The European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning – EURODL, issue 1, 2012.
The enabling power of technology, especially information technology and social software, prompts a radical shift in economic and social interactions in societies around the globe. Existing traditional school based, formalized learning formats are unable to accommodate specific new learning needs. Hence, customized to the respective purposes of personal wellbeing, inclusion or requirements for professional performance, lifelong continuous learning is no longer a choice but a necessity. At the 2011 Davos World Economic Forum it was already stated that the lack of adequately educated people not only limits personal fulfilment but will also hinder prosperity and economic growth in the near future. Since the learning needs and learning possibilities today differ fundamentally from the 20th century the question is how to unlock the learning potential of people in a situation where mainstream education still heavily relies on traditional institutionalized closed formats.
Since more than a decade the Open Educational Resources (abbreviated as OER) movement provides new ideas on how to generate and share educational resources for educational use (within and outside formal institutional, open education) by large audiences for a variety of learning purposes. The vision of developing and sharing OER resources for Open Education (OpenED/OE) is interesting in this context for its great potential to substantially help solving existing educational problems. Open education based on sharing (OER) open resources for education enables people across continents and organizations to transform their talents into professional competences and grow by removing existing (economic) barriers and invent new strategies to open up education. To date though the OER/OpenED vision materializes primarily in activities organized as dedicated sponsored projects.
Crucial for a sustainable future of this appealing approach and the capability to bridge existing “education gaps” is our capacity to translate the OER/OpenED vision and existing commitment into appropriate, sustainable business models for OER/OpenED.
Sustainability is a key requirement for the OER business model. Education in the 21st century has the character of life long education, so the question is not so much whether a specific OER project can be funded adequately but whether we can create an underlying business model foundation able to serve as a flight deck from which necessary OER based learning activities can be launched, as part of completely open educational offerings or embedded in hybrid educational constellations, across organizations and countries.
After sketching the scene in the introduction, we move to describing how the application of the OER paradigm radically changes not only learning itself but from a business perspective also the interactions and relationships between learners, “teachers”, creators and users of educational resources as well as relations between educational institutions, designers and service providers of both formal and non-formal learning offerings. In paragraph 3 we draw conclusions from these changing relationships, which leads to a new perspective on sustainable business models for, OER based, (open) education. Next in paragraph 4 we describe our ideas on the essential components of the proposed business model to become a viable sustainable living reality. Based on heuristics from research on learning networks, open innovation and collaboration we describe methods to frame OER/OpenED activities to lay the groundwork for sustainable learning ecologies. We end with concluding remarks and suggestions for future work.
The World Congress on Sustainable Technologies (WCST-2012) is a multidisciplinary congress, bridging efforts across the natural, social and engineering sciences, the environment and development of communities. The congress covers a wide spectrum of topics that relate to sustainability, which includes technical and non-technical research areas. It also encourages sharing new knowledge in the field of sustainable technologies and the environmental impacts. The mission of WCST-2012 is to provide the opportunities for collaboration and reflection that have the potential to greatly enhance the infrastructure and capacity for conducting and applying art, science and technology for sustainability. The WCST bridges the gap between academia and industry by creating awareness of current development in sustainable technologies.
Aaron Doering stopped by the International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies - Edulearn12 in Barcelona to share his passion for using technology in innovative ways, by focusing on experiences instead of products. His most recent project, Earthducation, takes this concept to creative extremes by bringing adventure learning to the classroom.
Aaron Doering’s experience as a K-12 Geography teacher convinced him of the need to link the real world to the classroom via technology in order to motivate students. Today he is associate professor in learning technologies at the University of Minnesota, co-director of the Learning Technologies Media Lab, and runs the adventure learning project Earthducation, which focuses on bringing global narratives on education and sustainability to students the world over.
Doering (www.chasingseals.com) recently stopped through Barcelona to deliver the keynote address at the International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies - Edulearn12, and to share his recipe for combining adventure and teaching in order to create change.
How is adventure learning possible…virtually?
What we do is write this specific curriculum, tie it to our experiences, and then bring in all the experts. So if we’re talking about whaling in the Arctic communities, we talk to a scientist, but we also bring in the students and the elders from that community, which people don’t normally do.
It’s applicable to every area, not rocket science at all, and the idea is that the ‘explorer’ is the expert in the field. It does take a different way of designing the learning environment, but you could have an electrical engineer providing real-time updates in coordination with the curriculum, for example.
Earthducation has you dog-sledding across the Arctic and cross-country driving in Australia, does the e-learning part of your project have as many miles under its belt?
It all depends on the year and how much exposure the project gets…But we’ve had over 3 million students a year who use our projects. That’s at least 2,000 classrooms on six continents.
Some of the climate hotspots you travel to are pretty remote, is e-learning a real option for isolated rural communities today?
It’s actually funny to talk about Internet access around the world, because it’s not what you might expect. In the Arctic, for example, maybe there were areas that weren’t connected 10 years ago, but now most are. The school is the hub of their village, and so they’ll have Internet access there, interactive whiteboards…it’s pretty amazing.
I’ve also spent a lot of time with the Sami, and they’re talking about how they can sustain their culture and their language, through online learning. They run videoconferences so as to teach in regions that otherwise wouldn’t have classrooms or teachers.
If that’s the case, what kinds of roadblocks does online education still face?
Well, take Africa, for example. You find they’re using little chalkboards because they don’t have textbooks, and they don’t have pens, but what they do have is mobile technologies. So it’s crazy, everyone’s texting when they don’t even have access to water.
So if we have mobile technologies in these communities…I mean, we’re dealing with other problems like how to charge the battery, or access to solar power…but the future might just look like this, like the mobile.
How does Europe compare to the U.S. with regards to online learning?
I think our goals for online learning and education are pretty similar. But we really need to rethink how we’re delivering online learning. It can’t just be discussion boards, or throwing up a power point and asking students to learn from that. It’s about creating an experience for each learner individually, by having them generate projects related to who they are, even as they’re working on the content we’re teaching.
What’s your advice for teachers who aren’t well versed in technology?
The first thing is that they just can’t allow themselves to be afraid of it. And we have to remember that this process takes time. Technology not only has the power to motivate your students, but also to reenergize you as an educator. It’s not going to happen overnight, though, and you have to move forward without fear. If you’ve got motivation and ambition, then you can truly change students’ lives with technology.
The ATEE Spring University 2012 Conference aims at sharing the best practices in education for sustainable development (ESD) including:
• Sustainable development topics, relevant to local circumstances and cultural environment
• Successful methods in developing ESD-related competences of learners
• New emerging competences of educators to be active in ESD
• Approaches to integrate ESD into school curriculum and non-formal education
• ESD in higher education
• Transformation of management of educational institutions according to sustainable development principles.
During the Conference paper sessions and workshops are planned. If you know colleagues interested in the same topic as you are, you are welcome to suggest your theme for a workshop involving 3-4 inter-connected presentations.
Cedefop, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training and the OECD Local Economic and Employment Development Programme (LEED) are organising a joint Green Skills Forum to be held at OECD Headquarters in Paris on 27th February 2012.
The forum aims to draw on lessons from work conducted by the OECD, Cedefop, and other organisations on the implications of the green economy for skills development and training policies. These insights will contribute to the OECD’s Green Growth Strategy studies such as the LEED project on Measuring the Potential of Green Growth and to Cedefop’s Green Skills activities, which contribute to the European Commission’s initiative on New Skills for New Jobs.
Contributors are invited to submit proposals of a maximum 500 words to the conference organisers by 1 December 2011.
For more information, please refer to the call for papers.
People who would like to attend the forum without presenting a paper are highly welcome too. The website containing more information as well as registration will be available soon.
For more information: GreenSkills-Forum2012@cedefop.europa.eu
eLearning Africa is the premier gathering place for all experts and stakeholders engaged or interested in ICT-based education, training and development on the African continent. Everyone concerned with eLearning in Africa is welcome to share and learn. Deadline for receipt of all proposals is Friday, December 9th, 2011.
We encourage practitioners and academics engaged in an African context to apply by submitting a proposal for eLA 2012, taking place from May 23rd to 25th in Cotonou, Benin. Please note that successful applicants will be offered a significantly reduced conference registration fee.
You are invited to submit proposals for any of the following:
- To lead a Pre-Conference Event to take place on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
- To give a Presentation in a themed session during the conference
- To suggest a Debate or Discussions for a debate or discussion during the conference
- To suggest a Special Focus Session on a particular topic which you would lead during the conference
- To give a Demonstration and Best Practice Showcase of a specific tool, application, service or course
- To host a Adchakpodji (Knowledge Exchange Session) about a topic of your choice, at a round-table with maximum 10 participants, allowing for an interactive and energetic exchange of information and experiences.
Each type of submission has a specific format; please choose the one you would like to use and fill in the form accordingly.
Deadline for receipt of all proposals is Friday, December 9th, 2011.
We will be in contact by the end of March 2012 to let you know if your proposal has been accepted.
The content selection process is overseen by the Conference Organising Committee and guided by the feedback we receive from the Conference Advisory Committees and associated organisations. Our experience has been that we receive many more proposals and ideas than we can include, and as a general rule, approximately one third of all proposals received are accepted.
Selection is made on the basis of the proposal's relevance to the conference themes, the experience and knowledge of the applicants, the practicalities of including the proposal within the conference format and a combination of the proposal's innovativeness and practical value to conference participants.
Kindly note that we will only accept high quality papers and presentations. For us quality is
defined by papers that:
- are clearly grounded in context
- provide conceptual clarity
- are supported by clear reasoning
- are backed up with evidence
- are relevant for an African context
- are useful for practitioners, policymakers and prospective partners
and presentations that:
- are clear, concise, inspiring and interactive
- are adequately supported by relevant slides or other visuals
- provoke and invite discussions with the audience and other speakers.
Please note that priority is given to African-based speakers for proposals being made on behalf of initiatives undertaken on the Continent.
This paper is based on a dialogue that summarises and responds to Workshop 08 of the Digital Agenda Assembly: Mainstreaming eLearning in National Policies, which took place on June 16th, 2011. It explores new ideas regarding how to make change happen by asking: do we have concrete ideas on how to introduce change in our educational systems? The workshop generated debate on issues related to both policy and practice in order to involve stakeholders from the educational sector in a discussion on the best strategies for improving learning environments.
The Digital Agenda Assembly explored new ideas regarding how to make change happen in the educational system. At the eG8, Robert Murdoch recalled that education was a pending challenge for our already digital societies. However, the question remains: do we have concrete ideas about how to make changes in educational systems?
The politics and practices surrounding the integration of technology and education raise many questions, and the extent to which this integration enacts real change is currently a critical debate within our field. Therefore, this discussion opens with a series of challenges related to the discourse on change, expressed in terms of four key areas: innovation, infrastructure, impact and pedagogical vision.
Innovation has been identified as a necessary element for creating change but the best way for introducing innovative practices is not always clear. How can we capture the innovation that takes place at the local level? Are we sure that we can transfer innovation as it is, or would it be better to concentrate on the inspirational dimension of some initiatives, in order to generate a myriad of new ones?
Sustainability is highly relevant to the current learning industry â€“ especially the sector within the industry that draws extensively on digital and communication technology for learning delivery and support. Technology itself is subject to a great deal of hype â€“ we have all experienced â€˜must haveâ€™ gizmos and software that have faded away in the face of the next â€˜big thingâ€™. The learning industry can not be sustained on hype - there is a pressing need to distinguish the hype from plausible trends.
The ELIG Annual Meeting will address the question of sustainability for learning markets as a three dimensional one:
- Is the learning industry itself at a sustainable level? Is it now fully matured - is it emergent still or has it already peaked and become subsumed by the wider, more traditional academic and training sector? What is the impact of its current level; has it changed the established academic and training sector and has elearning been over-hyped or under-valued?
- Is the market for learning sustainable? Is there enough passion for learning; is it a commitment to continual access to learning opportunities or has the economic crisis driven learning off the agenda in a quick cost-cutting exercise? We see both Governments and Corporates across Europe, targeting learning as a major area for disposable costs - rather than an essential investment in people to ensure the suitability of future workforces and to address social inequalities. How will this impact on the overall markets for learning products and services.
- Is the technology sustainable? Given the breakneck speed of change, can anything to do with technology ever be considered sustainable or will it always be transient? Has the shift to mobile and handheld devices really been accommodated within the current learning models in a valuable and sustainable way? How can the learning industry on one hand fund research and development into emerging technologies whilst at the same time be required to deliver the â€˜same old, same oldâ€™ by clients grounded in learning models of the last century? Is our ability to absorb technological change into societiesâ€™ structures for learning itself running slower than the rate of technology development?
Confirmed speakers include:
Anne Morrison, Director BBC Academy; Dirk Burkamp, Learning Technology Head, PwC Germany; Professor Teemu Leinonen, Aalto University, an expert on open source learning tools and platforms; Professor & Head of Design Factory, Kalevi Ekman, on the innovative learning approaches adopted by the Aalto Design Factory; Riitta Vanska, Senior Manager of Mobile and Learning Solutions, Nokia; Martin Dougimas, founder of Moodle
Contributors to the discussion session include:
Laura Overton, Director, Towards Maturity, on workplace learning trends; Piers Lea, CEO LINE Communications, on engaging with senior leadership taems on the elearning value proposition and Liina Munari, from the European Commission DG Information Society.
The draft agenda looks like this:
1200 Registration opens followed by Networking lunch sponsored by McGraw-Hill
1400 Meeting opens
1430 The learning industry: a users perspective (Keynote addesses)
1615 Experiencing an alternative: The Aalto Design Factory
1900 Drinks Reception followed by Dinner
0900 Parallel Sessions:(a)Marketplace Trends & Challenges (b) Public Policy, Innovation & Research
1045 Mapping out future marketplaces: open debate
1215 Closing Session followed by Networking lunch sponsored by McGraw-Hill
1400 - 1600 ELIG Working Groups in session (optional)