This year, the Austrian adult education scene is set to experience a first: a massive open online course (MOOC) created by adult educators for adult educators. What can we expect from this ‘EBmooc’?
Go online to learn about learning online
The ‘EBmooc’ is an online course at imoox.at, where participants learn via short videos, written instructions and self-test quizzes. The aim is for participants to acquire a set of digital tools that have proven useful for adult educators.
This begins with tools suited to the preparation, implementation and follow-up work for an educational course. The focus then shifts to the use of social media for adult education, e-learning and blended learning, as well as open educational resources. The course then concludes with study advice with online support. Right at the start, the EBmooc also provides tips on how to get the most out of MOOCs.
The course comprises a total of six modules. The course is expected to take approximately 18 hours in total to complete. This does not include time spent participating in optional courses or webinars. The content is designed to make everyday work in adult education more colourful, more effective and, above all, easier.
The demand is clearly there
The decision to offer a MOOC is a response to the needs of many adult educators. This is demonstrated by the responses to the EBmooc, as well as a feasibility study from the Nordic countries. You can take part in a MOOC wherever and whenever you like. These days, the availability of online learning courses is a fundamental prerequisite for many of us when it comes to taking part in further training.
A MOOC goes one step further: the content is freely accessible online in a multi-media format. Since lots of people are taking part at the same time, MOOCs provide participants with the opportunity to network with others while learning independently on their own computers. Webinars with video conference systems are one such possibility in EBmooc; classroom courses in all Austrian federal provinces are another. The optional courses mean that the online course is a blended-learning opportunity for anyone looking for personal contact with other participants and the support of tutors, in addition to independent study.
The challenges associated with executing this type of project can only be managed by combining efforts and with the help of government funding from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education (Bundesministerium für Bildung). In addition to the three project partners, CONEDU, Graz University of Technology (Technische Universität Graz) and WerdeDigital.at, almost 30 institutional partners are already working on the implementation.
At the same time, there are a range of challenges in producing the MOOC. Media consumer habits mean that there are very high demands in terms of the aesthetic design of videos. Digital tools change, are updated or even cease to be used, and this all happens while the tutorials in question are being produced. MOOCs usually have high dropout rates and need to be designed in ways that are highly motivating from a didactic perspective.
As such, the project team works under high pressure and very much has its hands full. The aim of the EBmooc is to show how it is possible, with reasonable effort, relevant content, and high-quality, to reach many hundreds of participants all at once, in adult education too.
High demand and keen interest
Interest in the course has, in fact, been high, with around 1000 participants already having enrolled a month before the start date. More than 40 optional courses have already been planned for Austria and Germany, with more currently in the pipeline. A range of training providers have shown keen interest in the format of the MOOC in a blended learning scenario, as well as the experiences of the project team in terms of the development and implementation of the course.
The Federal Institute for Adult Education (Bundesinstitut für Erwachsenenbildung) is also organising an event for June 2017, which will focus on sharing these experiences and coming together to explore the potential of MOOCs for adult education.
Additional links in German:
- Digitales Können wächst im Tun (Digital competences develops through action)
- In 6 Wochen zum Digitalen Werkzeugkoffer (Creating a digital toolbox in six weeks)
Author of original article in German: Wilfried Frei/CONEDU
Editing of original article in German: Birgit Aschemann/CONEDU