The keynotes were sessions attended by all the participants, and include the opening and closing presentations.
P. Dillenbourg explained at the very beginning the philosophy of this event: being something opened to the world community. There were 440 attenders, 270 of them being foreigners which was quite amusing in the political context of Switzerland, where an immigration law had been voted the day before...of course the chairman insisted on the fact that everybody in the conference was (and would always be, like all researchers in EPFL) very welcome! Almost 30 norvegians were present, which amazed the organizer and was a way to joke about Swiss and Norvegian rivalry in the Olympic games. The sponsors were also heartily thanked.
The general goal of the conference is not to imagine the future directly, but to talk about today, what has already been done concerning MOOCs, and bring data to speak about something concrete. In EPFL lots of data are available thanks to the teachers who decided to help the University make these MOOCs. Facts are goin to be exposed, and not only simple anecdotes.
For a long time, nobody was really conscious of elearning (except for the domain's researchers), but a few months/years ago, there has been a big increasing in the number of research activities, in the number of registrations from students to e-learning. Knowing how to teach is something very difficult and uneasy to apprehend. In the conference's title, E stands for Europe, and one of the goals is to see what is accomplished in this continent. The goal is not to fight against other continents : the sponsors show it clearly, as well as the sessions about helping third-world countries. And, as research never stops in EPFL, cameras had been set everywhere in the Rolex centre to track people movements, and help building some models about the way crowds live in a room.
This part began with a quick come-back about the basis of online education and its evolution from 1960 and the beginning of use of computers at school (to have some more information, you may for example consult this history of computer-based education from the 50's to 1997)
In Fall 2011 the tsunami of MOOCs began with an extraordinary increasing in platforms and users. This phenomenon was massive thanks to the use tablets, broadband access, the cloud, social networks...
The key features are: open access, personalization of the learning(thanks to the quizzes,...), synchronization with peers through peers grading, forums...
The MOOCs "market" is dominated by the US, who has the first mover advantage, but Europe is responding through some emerging platforms. The first problem for Europe might be the languages used, each platform adressing specific students speaking its associated language. The rest of the world, for example Africa, shouldn't be forgotten, and a session will deal with it.
The front runners are currently Coursera and edX, some people from these initiatives are present in the conference.
About MOOCs at EPFL, P. Aebischer came back to the data (and not only the anecdotes, as the philosophy of the conference demands it). Fall 2012 was the first MOOC created, to react to the evolution of American platforms. An agreement with edX was passed in 2013. 21 MOOCs have already been realized, 13 of them are being developed as internal use in EPFL. Two languages are used, French and English each one having about half of the MOOCs (which is quite intersting for the student's curricula).
Concerning courses opened to the entire world at EPFL: courses in English attract 10 times more students than the others.
Among the registered learners, only 8% get a certificate, but you always have to be careful about this statistic, concerning the number of registrations. Some courses are tough, and this is all natural that some people don’t go up to the end, and some people only want to have an experience in MOOCs (especially now at the beginning of the phenomenon). P. Aebischer then quickly talked about the problem of dropouts.
A majority of people who took one of these courses (for example about the programming language scala) already had a master degree, a PshD or bachelor (see the article from 1998, already the problem!).
Then the crucial question was asked : "Is MOOC the new textbook?" This question is motivated by the fact that if, for example, someone is learning scala, it might be better for him to learn it directly from his creator (or the best scala teacher in the world), and not from the student of the student of the student... of these specialists. In this prospect, are the teachers only going to be the people who make the evaluation, the courses being the same videos for everybody all around the world?
Africa is trying to catch up these courses, this is a unique possibility for this continent and other developing countries, which is very exciting for M. Aebischer. There is a thirst for higher education there. Some courses were developped especially in a way that it could interest Africa, about its main topics (like nutrition, health, water...), and collaborations at the teacher’s level are offered, giving them possiblities onsite. There are of course lots of problems with language, technologies accessibility. The question of the status of MOOCs, to make it recognized as real curricula items, is also very important.
Patrick Aebischer went for six months in Africa to see the situation of the continent. He saw a lack of lots of things (electricity, pure water...) but lots inhabitants are connected : education could be the solution to access and help them.
Africa is more active on French MOOCs, than in english.
To summarize, these are the important points for MOOCs : continuous education, developing countries, and on-campus education (proper blend).
In EPFL a whole organization has been created to produce the MOOCs, looking at the abilities, qualities of everybody. They have been used in three configurations : flipped classroom, all on-line and status-quo. Some statistics were realized with students, and for them MOOCs are mostly seen as a good add-on (80%), but not as a complete substitute (70%) for a normal course. 61% of them gave overall positive ratings, but there are still issues about social, quality...
Concerning the hype cycle, M. Aebischer's estimation is that this process began about one year before in the US than in Europe.
The main issues about MOOCs are :
"Things take longer to happen than you thing they will and then they happen faster than you thought they could" Ruedi Dornbusch says. The "battle" of MOOCs will be a battle of content, and Europe should become a major actor in this.
A question from a participant was the occasion to talk about crowd science (this will be further studied in some other conferences). M. Aebischer explained that MOOCs are a step in the building of interactions, and can therefore lead to these new forms of sharing and producing knowledge.
Another question: will we see a battle of languages? Not a battle but we have to bring other languages on board than English, regarding the number of people speaking this language. Language will not be the greatest and most important block, regarding the speed of translations nowadays, especially crowdsourcing translations.
M. Prats-Monné began with the extraordinary promiss of what education always wants to do : excellence and evolution (cf. Africa). The goal is to find what works and scale it up. Here we can modernize the education system, this is a fantastic opportunity.
In a context where everybody is feeling the impact of globalization and technology, is there no mercy for traditions?
There are extraordinary challenges at the commission. The goals are to provide help and support for those who want to master changes. MOOcs tell something about what his happening in high education institutions, and they maybe don’t know exactly where the things are going.
M. Prats-Monné then talked about the relationship between knowledge and education. Universities are still here to transfer this knowledge, and they must have capability to adapt themselves, to change their structures, according to the possibilities of technology.
What is educaton in our society?
Some things are currently done within the commision. Policy papers are realized, as well as important progress.
Universities are losing very quickly the monopoly of certification. The commission puts in place policy development, policy tools,... to enable MOOC developers to achieve things. Concerning mobility, cooperation,... budgets are given to enhance all these areas of (higher) education.
MOOCs are not a self-standing issue, and not the only aspect in this commission, they are studying all the opportunities for public institutions.
At stake are big data, data analytics, personalization of the MOOCs... The traditionnal way is coming to an end, and the institutions will have to cope with another concept. The commmission also makes sure evolution is not confined to the under 30-years-old people, but also for people working, or having no job, or who could look like being in a dead-end in their profesionnal life. Currently, attenders of MOOCs are 10 years older than in school.
Big concertations and consultations are in process, especially with the Bologna process, launched for the world of education. The current goal is to reach something more flexible, less “scary” in terms of certification for people to have their skills recognized.
We must build a better place in Europe thanks to education.
Someone in the conference asked Xavier Prats-Monné : Is there a structure at the european level for individual MOOCs (without having to deal with a big platform)? The answer is no, (and the same answer can be made to the question of mobility). No individual granting is made, there is something more strategic to achieve. We have to see what this initiative will bring to others, and its contribution to system exchange in education.
This presentation began with a very funny video, which is an extract from a Martin Scorcese's films. In this video it is question of MOOCs (or mooks)...but not really of Massive Open Online Courses (video becomes really interesting at 00:40)!
Thomas Friedman, a famous NYTimes journalist explained it in one of his articles, MOOCs are big news!
Apocalyptic predictions for the established institutions are made in the medias. But in the past some people also predicted the death of radio and TV...and you can't really say today that this medias disappeared because of the new tecnhologies! Discussions about MOOCs are like any previous discussion about technologies: a polarisation of debate can be seen, where evangelists and sceptics are facing. The first group talks abour a revolution which is going to improve the world, whereas the second sees the whole phenomenon is a myth. Diana Laurillard, which is more part of the sceptics group, made an article in Times Higher Education about MOOCs: Five myths about Moocs. She finishes this article with: "I have had many opportunities to observe that very intelligent people leave their brains behind when it comes to technology. The Mooc phenomenon is just further confirmation of that simple truth.". Simon Nelson just explained that the same remark could be made for the other part of the debate's participants!
The arrival of Internet is the occasion to improve teaching; and once again the same polarisation can be seen, both sides forgetting the incredible opportunities opened : creation, accessibility, discovery, social audience, new entrants... Some previously locked-in things can be accessed and discovered by lots of people. You can learn at your own pace, in your own room. This is possible to learn and also collaborate with other learners. Workers can be given aother chance to learn, Universities can expand their area of exercise to so many other people.
We are in front of a mass market phenomenon.
FutureLearn was launched on December, 17, 2012.
With all the collaborating opportunities opened , new learning techniques can be found.
FutlureLearn concentrates on online learning and MOOCs (which are seen as an entry in the online learning). Social learning networks have to be developed, the goal being to reach new audiences. FutureLearn collaborates with 26 word class Universities. Its expansion dreams include collaborations with British library, British council and British museum. New sponsors are also met.
The developed solution is designed for any device : computers, tablets, mobiles. The developers are reacting quickly to feedbacks, making updates several times a day. Simon Nelson took the example of the MOOC realized by CSI Scotland, an online murder mystery to discover forensic science. It reached 30000 learners.
The BBC (where Simon Nelson worked for a long time in the past) began to work with some of the Universities to make MOOCs about World War 1.
A very impressive statistic has been given : 94% of FutureLearn's users would recommend the platform.
On FutureLearn the goal is to tell stories, provoke conversation (social learning is the most exciting aspect of MOOCs), celebrating progress (instead being concerned about dropouts). A personnal progress page is present for every student and some progessive tips and hints are given in the tests.
Someone asked after the conference why this revolution was different from radio and tv ones. It could be because of the available analytics tools to get data, and understand the behaviors of learners. But there is still a long way to go before properly exploiting all these data.
Debra Humphris first enjoyed once again the fact that people will continue to apply their genius to create content and systems, to match the desire to learn, and use the enabling technologies of the time. We've got a mix of pedagogy and technology. But there are still barriers and inequality of access.
The fact that content is free is just a myth: it comes from universities. But with MOOCs students can support each other, and MOOCs might solve the problems of expensive undergraduate education and of educational scarcity in emerging countries. We just have to keep in mind that education is not a mass customer industry.
A new hegemony exists: 47% of the MOOCs market is owned by coursera (in terms of students), whereas FUN, for example, only has 2,2%.
The main questions are about curriculum, pedagogy, technology, inquiry...
Charity and citizen science (crowdsourcing) are two major aspects for the Imperial College concerning digital ecosystem. One of the goals is to make the UN know what to do
Analytics can be used for lifelong learnng, enabling personnalization and even the constitution of learning playlists for people.
The orthodoxy is change; the digital age is transformative and will not stay as it is now : some new things will always be invented. All providers of education are challenged, as anyone can simply create a MOOC, there are few bariers, this world is opened. About quality the question is: do we care about standards?
A new primary industry emerges concerning data and analytics.
For MOOCs the business model will become a burning issue (this is showed by the BIS 2013 report, about the maturing of MOOC).
With MOOCs it will be impossible to anticipate or control all the content that is coming through twitter, youtube...
A question has been asked in the conference: Why not MOOCifying his whole curriculum? At Imperial College, the development is driven by strategy rather than by platforms. Some discussions are still taking place there to know what exactly is goin to be made. To this, one reaction could be immediately read on Twitter, by Brian Mulligan (@brianmmulligan): "In a rapidly changing environment, agility is better than precision. Don't wait for the strategy. Beta everything." (link). It was an answer to the « shy » aspects of what could be infered from Imperial College’s need for a clear strategy before acting.
There are two groups in data people: the "suits" and the "cowboys". The first group is the traditional one, they like data warehouses and ECM concerning Information Management. For them, big data is used to make better decisions in enterprise. The lifecycle of a tool for big data includes consolidation, integration and reuse, with a top-down design. At the opposite are the "cowboys", who have the “big data style”. Their approach is bottom-up, experimental, and the goal is an immediate use. They favour tool proliferation, teams of one, their goa is better businness and marketing.
The three main feelings about bigdata are conflict, excitement and fear.
Information is the asset, you have to take advantage of it. Information also has a lifecycle, like any other product, the steps are:
Informations can be of three kind: record, differentiation and innovation. And the amount of differentiation information is a lot smaller than the record one, the innovation ones being even smaller. A very advanced classification of the data can be made. Big data requires new stuff, standards don’t work anymore. The first question is always what kind of database must be used(files, graph, tables...?).
The adoption rate of Business Intelligence in High Education is not high, and the "suits" approach seems to be the most used.
Frank Buytendijk then talked about the quantified-self movement, explaining that if you measure everything about you, your behaviour immediately changes , and so do your feelings (he gave a personnal example: for health reasons, M. Buytendijk had to sleep with a machine that analyzes its sleep. One morning, as his wife asked him if he had had a good night, he had a reflex: looking at the recorded data on his iPad about the last night!).
This movement, if included in the big data movement, might ask lots of questions. For example, if you walk a lot (and a system measures it), would you get a bonus for your health insurance? In some enterprises, employee management could go deeper (and already does), with managers checking their heartrate, blood pressure... Totally new business models might just appear.
To introduce the next part, a riddle was asked: do you know what "infrastructure" means? Infrastructure is everyhing below what I care about.
Banks of information should work exactly in the same way as classical banks. In classical banks, you lend money to your clients to earn more money. With information banks the system is: if you give data you get metadata in exchange, and information gets more value if you get the metadata (for example in Spotify, when yo listen to a music : the software knows your locations, and thus it knows the weather around you. This metadata has a research and business value for Spotify.). Lots of questions asked everyday (for example when eating: where was my fish fished? has a great importance for your health,...) can find an answer thanks to data.
According to Frank Buytendijk, MOOCs process is currently just after the peak of the hype cycle.
Concerning bug data, institutions like the NSA are provoking fear these days. But are they really evil? It seems that the answer is no, they are just trying to take the good decisions, but their activities might come out of control. Thanks to technology it is possible and affordable to make over-eagerly use of these data.
In supermarket : pregnancy has 27 indicators (in terms of items you buy)
The question of what should be allowed, or what shouldn't, is very hard about data, and the question is: were should the barrier be set? Can you (are these good use of the technology?):
There are currently 4.4 milliion jobs related to big data, and the demand has been multiplied by 3.
In this topic nothing is really standardized yet, so experiment is the right behaviour to use...but being carefull about it!
Are moocs going to be sustainable, and (how) are the universities going to make their strategies change?
Miriada X is the platform realized by this company, which already had 28 partnerships in November 2013, one year after its creation. It is destinated to spanish- and portuguese-speaking learners, all over the world (especially southern Europe and South-America).
The statistics about MOOCs are quite impressive, for example in one year of MOOC in Harvard, the Universtity has had more students than in its 377 years history.
Identifying talents is not always an easy task in normal degrees, can it change with MOOCs, and reveal some new talents?
Miriada X has 600 million potential students, 500,000 currently. No real advertising is being done yet (people came naturally thanks to the unviersities ...), but now that the company is sure the platform functions correctly they’ll surely begin to promote it. Currently this project is not interested in revenues, they are more interested in investigating, new technologies, analytics, reaching students, dealing with teachers... There is 20% completing rate on average on the courses, which is quite high and shows the work of the teachers.
It is currently free for the universities to put their courses on the platform, and they are given help and training to create their courses (helping the teachers, transition is quite difficult sometimes for them from classical courses to courses in front of a camera).
People who complete the courses don’t necessarily want to pay to have a certificate, it depends on the fact it could be useful for their jobs or not.
Concerning the teachers they are 787: 60% wanted to be part of the project as a reseach opportunity , to test their teaching skills and methods, which is an incredible unique and exciting experience for them. 33% of them had never done a MOOC as a student, and 80% never developed an online course before.
Several lessons have been learnt from these experiences:
Juan Medina is one of the best teachers on this platform (he teaches in the domain of mathematics and has very high completion rates). According to him, MOOC is the perfect format for zero or refresher courses. On every MOOC, there are always exceptionnal students who make lots of contribution on forums.
The content has to be reusable, ant it will give some more motivation to the teachers
Concerning business models the possibilities are: front-end services for students; back-end services to third parties, educational services (licensing content to the universities), workplace development programs...
Mirada X has relationships with European Schoolnet Academy (European infrastructure for open online professional development for teachers), partnering with ministries of education in Europe.
Someone asked Carolina Jeux how high the investments involved were? She doesn't have all the information, but her company invested 1,5 million euros last year, and certainly the same amount this year. Anyway, she said once again that they currently were interested in CAPEX only.
OpenupEd is a programm launched on April 25th 2013. The main goals are to enhance innovative teaching and learning for all through ICT, reshape and modernize EU education through OER (open educational resources).
One of the principles is that there is no fixed model, no single ideal model for education.
Fred Mulder once again made a call for Europe to create symmetry and reciprocity in its collaborations, especially with emerging countries.
The first important aspect is to bring connectivity to all schools by 2020.
A single programme for research and innovation must be realized, coupling research to innovation, focus on societal challenges, and enable simplified access.
Concerning adaptive and personalized learning (and other goals for 2020): the years 2014-15 will large scale pilots being launched in real settings (development, integration of digital educationnal tools, solutions and services in learning and teaching) and some innovative solutions will be procured.
Pierre Dillenbourg made the final conclusion of the conference, thanking everybody for their participation. Enough data have been studied during the conferences, and he has the feeling that we were reaching maturity about all these topics concerning MOOCs.
The committee decided during the conference the place where the conference will be held next year, in 2015: it will be in Begium, in Université Catholique de Louvain. More precisely, the visited town will be Mons. This town will also be, next year, the European capital of culture.
The vote to choose Mons as welcoming city has been very tight with another one: Graz, in Austria. Therefore, Graz is the place where EMOOCs 2016 will be held.