MOOC Fellowship program 2013: iversity and Stifterverband initiate the most popular contest for Massive Open Online Courses in Europe

Applications for the first MOOC Production Fellowship closed on April 30. The results are in: with over 250 qualified applicants, this was the most popular competition for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in Europe to date. Professors from over 20 countries applied, with 190 from Germany and 14 from both the United States and Italy. They’re competing for 250.000€ grants (about $320,000) from Stifterverband, a public trust for science in Germany, and us at iversity, to produce one of ten online courses. Furthermore, we as a European MOOCs provider, grant them technological and didactical support throughout course production.

The grants are comparatively high, given previous private initiatives in Germany. But, as our CEO Markus Riecke says, “This competition is not about money. Instead, our fellowship programme is all about advancing online education. And the inquiries show a demand for MOOCs among university instructors in Europe and across the world that is way beyond expectations. Together with Stifterverband, iversity is committed to produce exciting and inspiring courses that are open to everyone.”

This project isn't exclusive to Europe and the US. Professors from countries as varied as China, New Zealand and Columbia are competing for fellowships; many come from esteemed research universities such as the University of California at Berkeley, Columbia, Cambridge, LMU and TU Munich, Heidelberg, Tübingen, Freie and Humboldt Universität Berlin and RWTH Aachen.

"iversity is committed to prMarkus Riecke, CEO of iversityoduce exciting and
inspiring courses that are open to everyone.”

Markus Riecke, CEO of iversity

Submissions from American Ivy League universities, Britain’s most renowned colleges, and German “Eliteuniversitäten” were expected, as these universities often pioneer MOOC development. Surprisingly, some of the most intellectually stimulating courses, however, were submitted by professors and lecturers from less well-known institutions.

Hannes Klöpper, one of the fellowship programme’s initiators at iversity, explains, “MOOCs provide an excellent opportunity for outstanding scholars and enthusiastic teachers, who, for whatever reason, do not teach at one of the elite universities to reach a global audience.
MOOCs not only allow for students to participate in courses, no matter where they live, but also for instructors to teach independently of where they happen to be located.“ The proposed online courses are even more diverse than the academic backgrounds of potential fellows from which they stem. About a third of the applications focus on law, economics, business studies and social sciences, a third are interdisciplinary courses, and about one sixth teach STEM subjects.

English may be today's language of science. But among the applicants from Europe, German prooved to be still a very popular language for MOOCs: 115 of the applications for a MOOC Fellowship are in German, and 109 are in English. Roughly 10% of the the courses that are presented for a fellowship-grant by iversity and Stifterverband are bi-lingual. And two percent of the suggested MOOCs are even multi-lingual, meaning that they would be taught in more than two languages.

Ten of these courses will be chosen by online public votes and a jury of MOOC experts.