Post-Covid Prospects for Massive Open Online Courses – Quarantine boost or backlash?

The European MOOCs Stakeholder Summit (EMOOCs) was hosted in Potsdam, Germany between June 14th and June 16th and the Open edX Project was the largest sponsor of the conference. Our Open edX community partners Abstract Technology, Edunext, Raccoon Gang attended this event, alongside about 150 e-learning professionals. 

The conference started directly with the performance and leadership of our Open edX community partners with a 3 hour long hands-on workshop titled, “Everything You Need to Know About Open edX® platform”. A large and interested audience discovered the basic functions and features for course creation and management of the built-in authoring tool Open edX Studio. The morning session continued with another talk “Using analytics in a large virtual classroom for Open edX®” to explore the learning analytics of the Open edX platform and the open source virtual classroom tool BigBlueButton. Stefania Trabucchi, CEO of Abstract Technology, pointed out that a combination for both open source tools, not only connects synchronous with asynchronous learning activities, but also improve course completion and learner outcomes in MOOCs, which traditionally have been delivered asynchronously. 

The course completion rates could be higher with more live engagement throughout online courses, if we are able to provide opportunities for live engagement, during the virtual class, make the engagement meaningful, where students come and apply themselves, collaborate and communicate, and get and give feedback. 

We can use the real time analytics of the BigBlueButton Open edX integration to analyze the time students spent speaking, chatting, raising hands, using emojis, and responding to polls. We can also monitor the time students spent to complete a module, watch a video, their number of assignment submissions, and/or interaction with course materials. 

Day 1 of the EMOOCs Conference 2023 ended with the talk called, “Innovating Online Learning with the Open edX® platform”, performed by our community partners who presented two Open edX® platform success stories: 

● The Scuola di Limes, first online geopolitics school in Italy, which aims to provide young graduates with career specific skills and knowledge in geopolitics. The school also aids managers and executive personnel from the public or private sector who deal with geopolitical issues on a daily basis.

● The 3 nation-wide e-learning platforms for Ukraine: ВШО (All-Ukrainian school online), HMT (National multi-subject test), Іспит (language proficiency testing platform). This project offers about 2000 lessons in 18 subjects for the school grades 5 to 11 and is used by more than 520 000 registered users/students. 

Fireside chat 

Day 2 of the EMOOCs conference was all about networking and attending the different talks of the exciting program. Our highlight of the day was the Fireside Chat with the American computer scientist and Founder of edX, Anant Agarwal and Carlos Delgado Kloos, President for Digital Micro-credentials at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. 

The Fireside Chat also touched the hot topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its impending impact on online teaching, among other topics. Anant Agarwal said that there is nothing to fear. AI solutions would never replace humans, but only democratize various areas of education, such as writing and speaking text – just as the Google search engine used to democratize remembering facts or calculators, which democratized the use of mathematics. 

To make it impossible for examinees to use AI solutions, such as ChatGPT, as currently prohibited in most online exams, Agarwal said, more versatile assignments need to be constructed and more in-depth exam questions need to be developed. Further, the founder of edX said that AI cannot replace human teachers because, unlike AI solutions, they can respond to learners’ feelings, emotions, and personal circumstances. 

Freedom to Innovate 

Besides the impressive closing speech of the host Prof. Christoph Meinel from the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI), in which he emphasized that digital learning solutions will continue to play an increasing role in education, even after the coronavirus pandemic has officially ended, there was another highlight in the morning: The talk by Edward Zarecor, Vice President of Engineering for Axim Collaborative.  

Edward presented in his talk the Open edX platform and the Four Freedoms of open-source, which are:

● Freedom to use the software 

● Freedom to study it 

● Freedom to improve it 

● Freedom to share your changes 

Concerning the Open edX platform he pointed out the most appreciated values: 

● Proven scalability to support “MOOC scale” learning 

● Freedom from “licensing costs or subscription fees” 

● Freedom to “modify and extend” the platform 

Who is using the Open edX Platform?

Currently, 4,500+ organizations use the Open edX platform and during the EMOOCs summit, a selection of Open edX platforms, built for academia, enterprise, international organizations, and for professional education have been presented. We can list some of them here for a quick overview: 

  • Swiss Mooc Service 
  • Thailand MOOC 
  • PoliMi Open Knowledge 
  • NAU platform 
  • MITx Online 
  • GALILEO Universidad 
  • Fostwom 

The huge number of projects running on our innovative, scalable, and flexible online learning platform is very impressive and it demonstrates how the Open edX project is growing rapidly all over the world. 

The Open edX Lucky Draw 

Lotterie sponsored by the Open edX Team

Throughout the conference days, raffle tickets were distributed, from which three winners were drawn on Friday. The winning students are now proud owners of great professional literature on instructional design and online learning.

Overall, it has been a highly informative and engaging conference and we were glad that the Open edX team and its partner played a big part in it!