Inside the MOOC Laboratory: Meet Our Academic Partnerships Team!

What is the secret formula for a great MOOC? Well, first we need a great professor, of course, then an interesting subject that will catch your attention and meet your learning needs. But that’s just the start – we need online learning experts to make sure the best courses make it to the platform. Inside our beloved MOOC laboratory is a team researching and discovering the greatest possibilities digital education in the 21st century has to offer! This week they’re willing to reveal their identity: it’s time to meet our Academic Partnerships team!

Top (from left to right): Manuela, Mattia and Viola. Bottom (from left to right): Fabian, Michael and Lara.

“It’s Alive!”

Dr. Frankenstein screams as he sees his creation come to life. Though much less morbid and frightening, a lot also has to happen before your online course comes to life. By the time you start your first chapter, the Academic Partnerships Department has been looking for the right professors, and helping them design and create the course layout that provides you with the best learning outcomes and the most engaging experience. It starts with two main ingredients: interest and ideas. While the team researches desirable subjects, reputable professors and well-respected institutions, professors, who want to reach students all over the world and be a part of this new and exciting digital wave in education, can contact iversity with their course concept. When the Academic Partnerships team thinks the course and iversity are a match, the real work begins! 

Don’t forget that digital education is still in its beginning stages – inside the MOOC laboratory we discover and innovate learning methods everyday! So, after they work out the logistics of creating a partnership, the team is available to share the latest didactical methods in online learning, the best assessment formats and good layout options for an all-around cohesive course with the professors. Professors have to structure their courses well, so following lectures can be engaging and enjoyable. For that, we divide them into digestible chapters and units. But, there’s even more to think about: a quiz at the end of every unit, further readings for the enthusiastic learners, the homework assignments and the exams. The professors have to break down their course into little pieces and plan out all of the details, and that’s why there is the course maintenance team to support them. The next step is warming up our online learners for the new MOOC. They add it to our course list, set up the course description page and get the word out about the upcoming course. That’s when it’s time for the professors to start the real production process. This part is all up to the professors, but our didactic managers are always behind the scenes, giving tips on educational tactics or video editing when needed. And how does this story end? With a brand new MOOC on of course!

Who are these academic experts?

The people behind this MOOC-creating process have two important jobs. One part of the team takes care of course acquisition: organising new professors and more course offerings. Fabian, the head of this side of the department, focuses on future partnerships with universities and talking to potential instructors. He was a part of the early beginnings of iversity and would later return when it turned its focus to MOOCs. His Master’s thesis explored MOOCs, and the Bologna education reforms and ECTS system in Europe, so he was excited and equipped to join iversity in a new mission. Manuela comes from southern Italy, and after finishing her Philosophy degree in Florence, soon found herself in Berlin as our Country Manager for Italy. She works alongside Fabian building partnerships with Italian universities and professors, as well as with German professors. Mattia studied at Zeppelin University and the University of California Berkeley. With a strong focus on international relations and research, he is primed to be an academic partnership manager, where he discusses the potentials of joining the exciting MOOC revolution. They know is a great platform and take this passion with them as they share what we do, explain what digital education is about and collaborate with partners that fit our vision.

Once the professors are on-board, it’s time for the course maintenance team to take over. They guide the instructors with transferring their traditional courses into a new digital format. Also a certified teacher and pedagogue, Lara provides didactic support for the professors. She helps them to come up with a good MOOC and concept, quality assessment methods, and every once in while, she assists our Product Team with thinking about new features from a didactical perspective. Michael, our video production freelancer and Canadian rock star (no joke), is responsible for audio and video editing support. He also creates info material and support documents to help instructors with the post-production process.

And finally, there’s Viola, holding an M.A. in Media Management from the Bauhaus-University Weimar. She’s the brains behind our new business strategy as the Business Developer at iversity. She ensures that iversity continues to grow, that we form fair and healthy partnerships with institutions and instructors and that our learners have more to gain from our courses regarding certificates and accreditation. 

What’s to come?

Expect some new and exciting assessment and exam features in the near future. They are busy finding great new solutions that will provide you with better online learning feedback! Yes, we can guess that you really want to know what new MOOCs are in the making. Well, there’s a lot going on right now and we can’t announce a course until all of the logistics have been worked out. Our goal is still to have 100 courses by 2015, so expect lots of new courses along the way! We’ll keep you informed – we always announce new courses on Facebook, Twitter and in the newsletter (sign up near the bottom of our homepage). In April, almost like the start of a new semester, 9 courses will begin – take a look at our course page and get prepared to learn!

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