MOOC

Since voting began on May 1, over 43,000 people registered to vote, with over 55,000 votes cast by May 15. Voters are allotted ten votes for their favorite courses, satisfying interests ranging from politics to computer science, from medicine to engineering. Online voting for fellowship winners continues through May 23, 12:00 pm CET.

Results will be considered by an independent jury, which will choose ten fellows in June after evaluating all course concept proposals at a meeting in Berlin. The jury is comprised of representatives of Stifterverband and iversity, as well as various experts. Members are drawn from academia, the policy realm, and business. The jury includes Prof. Dr. Sandra Hofhues, professor of education in Heidelberg, Prof. Dr. Jörn Loviscach, a lecturer with a profound practical experience in teaching online, and Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kluge, former head of McKinsey Germany.

Fellows, the press, and voters will then be notified; results will be released to the public by mid-June. On June 20 and 21, fellows will gather in Berlin for a kick-off workshop, during which iversity will walk them through all facets of MOOC production. Hannes Kloepper, CMO of iversity

"The workshop by iversity will provide professors with every possible support to produce excellent MOOCs"

Hannes Klöpper, Co-Founder of iversity

As Markus Riecke, our CEO at iversity, says, “Together, we will refine course production concepts didactically and logistically. The workshop also serves as a bonding experience for fellows. We will present the iversity platform and its capabilities, engaging fellows in dialogue. We aim to not only coach fellows, but also learn about their diverse experiences, expectations, and ambitions, which will shape their MOOCs and, more broadly, higher education.”

After the workshop, fellows will begin producing their courses, while our experts at iversity document their creation. Hannes Klöpper suggests to, “Keep an eye out for exciting MOOC Production Fellowship news. And attend our public event on June 20 in Berlin, at the Stifterverband headquarters inside the the Allianz Stiftungsforum at the Pariser Platz. At this event we will explore the impact of MOOCs on higher education more generally. I look forward to our workshop in Berlin. iversity will provide professors with every possible support to produce excellent MOOCs.

Please note: once the winning MOOCs are determined by the jury, we will keep you updated on ongoing developments and enable you to pre-enroll for your favorite courses. News about the fellowship, grants, and upcoming MOOCs will be posted in blog updates.

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By Anna Meixler

 

Access to classroom learning is far from universal, and even those enrolled in formal educational institutions may be hungering for greater, more convenient learning opportunities. In fact, the most heavily cited reason that students take MOOCs, according to a February 2013 Coursera report on their Bioelectricity MOOC from Duke University, is to satisfy intellectual hunger. The desire to extend existing knowledge on certain topics is cited as the second most likely cause for engagement, and professional development as the third.

This academic curiosity is universal. According to the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, its MOOC with only 2,000 students encompassed 109 different countries. Students represent countries with vastly different political and socioeconomic conditions, interacting with individuals internationally through MOOC discussion forums as previous generations had not. The 687 participants from the United States had the opportunity to correspond with students from Egypt, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Educational discourse may eventually bridge conflict and unite citizens between states with historically tense relationships.

These are not only university students, but also adults and working professionals representing a variety of fields, contributing unique perspectives. Many courses consist of students who hold less than a four-year degree along with students who have Bachelors degrees, and students with even more advanced degrees.

MOOCs uniquely offer students a way to explore their interests and expand their knowledge at a university level, without having to apply to or meet the requirements for attending a standard university. In this way, MOOCs provide high-quality educational experiences, without hefty price tags, rigid time commitments, or exclusive acceptance rates. They also allow students to select the learning experience most productive and best suited to their abilities and preferences, which may surprise those who think MOOCs are impersonal. Students choose MOOCs based on their levels of difficulty, and can study class material at their own paces, based on their schedules and learning needs.

This new educational frontier requires flexibility in leadership and participation. Many MOOCs are still in trial-and-error stages, necessary for their eventual success. Like in any higher-learning construct, teachers, and students must interact dynamically to fully reap the unique benefits that MOOCs offer. Professors and students are testing the waters with MOOCs, partaking in the educational experiment of the twenty-first century. In so doing, participants promote innovation in teaching and learning, enhancing global knowledge and satisfying scholarly interests.

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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.

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