Online voting begins to find the best MOOCs

Stifterverband and iversity launch voting phase of €250K contest

Essen and Berlin, Germany, 6 May 2013 Public voting begins today to help determine the winners of the MOOC Production Fellowship contest, which will award ten €25,000 stipends to professors to create massive open online courses (MOOCs) geared towards students in Germany and the rest of the world.

Stifterverband, a German higher education policy think tank, and iversity, an online startup, together created the contest. Between 11 March and 30 April, professors and teams of professors from over 20 countries submitted MOOC proposals online, including 190 from Germany, and 14 each from the United States and Italy.

Anyone can now cast up to ten votes to support the proposals they think should be awarded fellowships.

The online voting continues through May 22, and the results will be considered by the jury that chooses the final winners in June. Besides representatives of Stifterverband and iversity the jury is composed of a number of experts, including a professor from a school of education, a professor who has taught a course on Udacity and the former head of McKinsey Germany.

Professors from countries as far flung as China, New Zealand and Columbia are among the contestants for the fellowships. 115 of the applications are in English and 109 in German. Roughly a third falls into the broad category of “law, economics, business studies and social sciences”, another third is interdisciplinary and about a sixth of the applicants teach STEM subjects. A number of professors hail from renowned research universities such as the University of California at Berkeley, NYU, Cambridge, Columbia, LMU and TU Munich, Heidelberg, Tübingen, Freie and Humboldt Universität Berlin and RWTH Aachen.

“The reaction to the contest has really been overwhelming. The digitalization of higher education is in full swing”, says Volker Meyer-Guckel, Deputy Secretary General of the Stifterverband: “The course concepts that have been submitted demonstrate that MOOCs can be more than an addition to higher education as it exists today. They can be truly revolutionary.”

“We are very happy about the feedback we have gotten. I think we have demonstrated that online-Education will be a very hot topic; not just in the United States but around the world. We are tremendously excited to see which courses will receive the most votes in the coming weeks and who will be our fellows in the end,” says Marcus Riecke, CEO of iversity.

The MOOC Production Fellowship Contest intends to kick-start the development of innovative MOOCs, which are online courses that are open to the general public and can attract thousands of students to a single course. Besides the prize money, winners will receive on-going support from iversity during course production. The winners will be announced in June, and the courses will go live on www.iversity.org in October.

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