Last week, TU Delft reached one million enrolments in its Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Anka Mulder, vice-president of TU Delft: ‘I am proud that we enable hundreds of thousands learners from all around the world to gain access to the knowledge and expertise of TU Delft through open online courses.’
TU Delft, the oldest and largest university of technology in the Netherlands, has reached one million enrolments in its 36 MOOCs in the field of science, design and engineering.
With an average age of 29, the MOOCs of TU Delft are taken by many individuals who are looking for innovative ways to brush up on their knowledge or to learn new skills in order to support their career and studies. For some of these learners, the MOOCs are the only way to access higher education - these courses are open to all, with no entry requirements.
With a wide range of courses with business relevance, such as project management, data analysis, sustainable energy technologies, water management and industrial design, TU Delft supports the professional development of working professionals world-wide. Some companies, such as Royal HaskoningDHV and Capgemini, have used the MOOCs internally as part of company training.
Global Reach – The Case of Solar Energy MOOC
Solar Energy by Arno Smets was TU Delft's first MOOC, in 2013. The course has reached 130,000 enrolments and was translated into Arabic on the Jordanian edRaak platform, in order to adopt solar energy as an energy source in the Middle East. ‘Regardless of where you are, anyone who has access to internet can now learn how to provide solar energy to their home or community”, says Arno Smets.” Andersson Contreras Olmos from Colombia for example, was one of my first online students. The course taught him how to install his own photovoltaic system to solar energy using solar panels, and so contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. His plan now is to raise funds to provide an indigenous community with solar energy instead of a diesel generator which does not satisfy the needs of this community.’
Not only for adults – MOOCs for children
A unique MOOC among the range of MOOCs is the Dutch language MOOC Scratch, programmeren voor kinderen (8+) (Scratch, programming for kids (8+)). Being the first Dutch MOOC on the American EdX platform, more than 2,500 children are taking part in the course which started on 15 June.
Using MOOCs at the university
MOOCs content is typically derived from classes given in TU Delft’s regular degree programmes. Students at TU Delft also benefit from the experiences gained by their lecturers with online education. The MOOCs are used, for example, to enable students to attend the lectures online so classroom hours are dedicated to in-depth discussion of the course material, rather than to knowledge transfer (also known as ‘flipping the classroom’.)
The next challenge
Anka Mulder, vice-president of TU Delft, is the driving force behind the MOOCs at TU Delft. ‘We are now working hard on the next step: ensuring that our students can earn credits for MOOCs of TU Delft, as well as for those from partner universities and vice versa. This means that they will gain access to a wide range of courses from top lecturers around the world. The challenge lies in agreeing on which courses we recognise and how many credits our students can earn in a certain phase of their degree programme.’