What is different about OpenupEd, as opposed to FutureLearn or Spanish Miríada?
We started OpenupEd to offer a good alternative to US-based MOOCs by putting the learner rather than the teacher at the centre and by delivering quality learning materials in a wide variety of languages. We have included many European countries and also some countries outside Europe, such as Russia, Turkey, Israel and we are open to universities in other countries to join, for which we have received quite some interest already. This initiative is not revenue driven but rooted in the public domain. Moreover, it is deliberately decentralized towards institutions, and has a European flavour building on values like equity, quality, and diversity.
Does OpenupEd provide a platform to run different MOOCs? How many courses are already available?
We don’t have a central platform, the courses run on the institutions platforms that are already in place. We do have a central portal, however, which provides information about the current 61 MOOCs, the common features that hold for those courses, the institutions that provide them, the languages they are in, as well as links to the platforms where the MOOCs are running.
Does OpenupEd provide any guidelines as how MOOCs should be structured?
The MOOCs have to satisfy eight common features, the most prominent being ‘openness to learners’ and ‘digital openness’, which in its combination is both attractive and distinctive. After the launch of the portal, we received an email from some master students at a prestigious university in Portugal who wanted to explore the possibility of having MOOCs from their university under the OpenupEd initiative. It is interesting seeing students becoming an active stakeholder in favour of MOOCs.
How do you choose the universities?
We started as an initiative from the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities which, among other members, includes all the open universities in Europe. If you are a full member of EADTU you can join without any further quality check. If you are not a full member, we have to make sure that you adopt the above-mentioned eight common features, that you are a recognized institution in your national higher education system, and that the quality of the MOOCs is ensured, as well as that the MOOCs operation will be evaluated and monitored. I would, by the way, certainly encourage other European consortia to get on the move with MOOCs, thereby offering an interesting alternative to participation in edX or Coursera. Website OUNL.