What does the future hold for education? Even as European education systems struggle with budget cuts and austerity, there is a digital revolution taking place. The internet has the potential to transform education in the same way it is shaking up journalism, publishing, and the music and film industries.

One significant (though awkwardly-named) element of the digital revolution is the so-called “MOOC”. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are free online courses with unlimited global enrolment open to anyone. There were 3,842 MOOCs worldwide in January 2015, and the number is growing exponentially (201% in 2014). They are usually non-accredited, but some universities and colleges may recognise credits from MOOCs.

As part of our Debating Europe Schools series, we’ve been taking questions from students from across Europe to policymakers and experts for them to answer. For today’s debate, we had a question sent in on MOOCs from a student from the Kiev National University of Technology and Design, Ukraine.

Curious to know more about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and the future of education? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).

13 - Digital-Revolution

Our question came from Maxime, PHD student at Kiev National University of Technology and Design, Ukraine. Maxime wanted to know what will be the role of Massive Open Online Courses in schools and universities. How will they influence upcoming generations of students?

To get a response, we spoke to Roxana Rugina, Co-founder of Simplon, a company offering free training in web development & entrepreneurship.

To get another perspective, we also approached Anant Agarwal, the CEO of EdX, a nonprofit MOOC launched in 2012 that runs on open source software. How would he respond to Maxime?

Anant-AgarwalMOOCs won’t replace universities, but rather enhance the quality of education by incorporating blended learning. In blended classrooms, the on-campus university course can leverage the power of MOOCs to free up classroom time for interactive collaboration and discussion, testing, and problem solving.

EdX also partners with universities and institutions to use its platform to conduct research into how students learn in order to improve on-campus and online education.

MOOCs are also being used to help students transition from high school to university. EdX recently launched a high school initiative, a series of high school and introductory level courses to help bridge the gap between high school and college and prepare learners to university level studies.

What about the second part of Maxime’s question? How does Anant Agarwal think the digital revolution will affect the lives of the next generation of students?

Anant-AgarwalUp to now, quality education – and in some cases, any higher education at all – has been the privilege of the few. We see MOOCs as the great democratizer, and believe that in the future, economics, social status, gender or geography will not determine a student’s access to education or opportunity for success. We also envision a continuous education system – one that doesn’t stop after four years of college. Our vision for the future is to continue to work with universities, institutions, faculty, researchers, and students to innovate and transform education, to make education accessible to everyone, and to improve on-campus learning through research.

What does the future of education look like? How will Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) transform education? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC – BY-NC-ND – Jisc and Matt Lincoln

29 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Robert Santa

    Not that much? MOOCs “degrees” have fairly little value as currency in society/the economy and drop-out rates due to poor motivation are very high. I think they will massively transform the market for rapid upskilling however. Need a rapid crash-course in statistics? A MOOC might be more useful here than enrolling in a university, but for larger scope educational periods I doubt they will change much…

  2. avatar
    Rick Wilmot

    The UK must catch up with European education, we lag way behind especially in languages,. Here in Spain, 5 year old kids learn English!

  3. avatar
    Breogán Costa

    for me, MOOCs are a great complement, but it’s not that easy as “replace” universities. Sometimes, you need equipment that probably you cannot pay (electronics, etc), so, not that easy. But an amazing complement, I’ve done several MOOCs and I will continue doing.

  4. avatar
    Inês Valente

    I think MOOCs are extremely helpful but they won’t replace Uni degrees. They’re meant to be done sporadically, if you need to know something specific and you need to learn it now and fast, they’re amazing. They help people with continued education, something that lacks in the majority of the population. You have to keep up to date after you started working.

    Also, if you are in a situation where you just have no money but are dedicated and can learn by yourself, they’re the right choice.

    Finally, I also think most of them are better than my Uni classes were..

  5. avatar
    Rui Duarte

    I like on-line courses.. but «education» is about much much more than «techniques»; especially as university level. «Character», for example, needs interaction. If we try to reduce highter «education» to technical knowledge

  6. avatar
    Rui Duarte

    as «Bologna» does, then our civilization will crumble before we get to see «the future».

  7. avatar
    Rui Duarte

    Online courses are a very good «instrument» to people who know what they want, though.

  8. avatar
    Ioanna Geor

    education will not necessarily be in the form of writing and reading in the future… in a few decades it will be all about numbers and coding

    • avatar
      Prince du Sang

      This is sad news.

  9. avatar
    Teresa Paiva

    To me, every way to share knowledge, that communicates interesting and imoortant issues is a good way. Knowledge should be free for everyone.

  10. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    Are we comparing education with publishing? With the music and film industries? Are those the standards we are aiming at? Please!

  11. avatar
    Arjan Tupan

    I believe the impact of MOOCs will be that education becomes more accessible. Also, as early results show, it might help teachers to develop their skills. But maybe the most direct impact, will be that it will be possible for future students to get a complete degree by combining courses (online and on-campus) from many universities. Think of, for example, what the Erasmus program has done to give students in Europe more opportunities to do part of their studies abroad. Then multiply that not just by the number of semesters, but the number of classes one needs to take to complete a degree.
    I think MOOCs will prove to be a wonderful addition to the current education system. Looking at how many schools are already doing MOOCs, I think they will find ways to integrate them fully into their offerings, to the benefit of the schools and the students.

  12. avatar
    Carmen Medina

    I have taken several MOOCs. There is only one word that can describe them “awesome”. Why? Not only because of the content in itself, the comfort of studying, reading and listening anytime and anywhere to your own convenience, but because of the connections. You are working with/in the world. It really does not matter who or what you are. You are simply a student who is learning and sharing their ideas with others. If there is a way of reaching world peace, I think MOOCs just may be that way. They are a stage where you can bounce off your ideas and constructively criticize the ideas of others. I find the possibilities fascinating.

  13. avatar
    Irena Llleibovici

    I think that a multimedia multifunctional intelligent system shall be useful when being used in the same time in the class, online, as virtual lesson, virtual book, virtual library and a classic e-learning system, The development of the curricula is actually the challenge today, but the systems permitting the record of the lessons shall be useful and in 1-2 years we should pass over this problem. The system must be the saame for any grade, with little canges and permissive in adopting new hard and software any time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyE4ypdo83o .

  14. avatar
    Ray Bennet

    I am one of those individuals who is registered to take the MOOC course offered through the University of Edinburgh-“E-Learning and Digital Cultures.” The organizers of the course sent an email to all of those students who have registered for the course 2 months prior to the beginning date. We have established a network of ties across the globe without a professor directing us to do so. Most of the traffic on my Facebook page right now is with members of my class who are communicating through a group page. We also tweet to connect to each other, but are beginning to enjoy longer discussions that engage greater number of members. A book club that surrounds ideas about digital cultures is in the works and reflections are now being followed and read through blogs.

    While education and experience span the spectrum from novice to expert, most members of the class express a true desire professional growth. Many of the members of the class already possess a master’s or doctoral degree. Several members are professors, as well as a dean of a college. One has just finished teaching a MOOC course. Members do not hold the illusion of matriculation free of charge.

    Clay Shirky’s ideas about Cognitive Surplus are worth considering when wondering why individuals in higher education (https://okessay.co.uk/) are willing to share what they know with the world for free. The new infrastructure of knowledge, unlike conventional universities, does not lie within a structured building. One key idea that David Weinberger proposes is that institutions that once put people into the same space to develop their ideas also determined the criteria for what counted as knowledge.

    Perhaps what is really bothering those that consider open education a threat to economic development is the idea that what constitutes as knowledge is now open to discussion, consideration and revision. It’s time for us to rethink knowledge and that there are experts everywhere!

    Here’s an article about Moocs in UK’s universities https://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/dec/03/massive-online-open-courses-universities

  15. avatar
    europe hopes

    Surely open education open the doors of a culture for all. Internet is a friendly tool to communicate, it attracts people of every social class and for this reason it could be also a good instrument to combat the early school leaving.

  16. avatar
    Costanzo Ajello

    If robot’s AI demagnetizes can it be considered as dementia?

  17. avatar

    Teachers that dont like computers and internet would need to quit or change their view.

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