Sharing Best Practices

Sharing Best Practices

MOOCs, An important tool for the internationalisation of the university


Interview with Natasha Sachs / Coursera

Coursera has over 24 million registered learners around the world. Three quarters of these learners are from outside the US (76%) and nearly half are from emerging markets (44%). When Erasmus University offers MOOCs on the Coursera platform, they reach people all over the world, most of whom would never have heard of Erasmus or have the means to travel to Rotterdam to take courses. On Coursera, an Erasmus lecturer can teach more students in a single course than they might teach during their entire career on campus. For anyone passionate about their field of expertise and about sharing their ideas with others, this is an incredible opportunity.


The effects

In 2015, we published a learner survey in Harvard Business Review, showing that the overwhelming majority of our learners get both career and educational benefits. Of those seeking career advancement and who completed the courses, 87% reported benefits. 33% reported tangible benefits like a new job, promotion, or starting a business. Online learners from less educated and less affluent backgrounds were more likely to report tangible career benefits.


A MOOC student profile

Our learners come from every demographic you can imagine, but they tend to fall into one of the following categories. 

  • Career Professionals (average age = mid 30s): More than half of Coursera’s users visit the site and enrol in career-relevant courses in technology, business, health, teaching, and more. 
  • Enrichment learners (average age = mid 20s and mid 50s): Motivated by a love of learning, these learners tend to be interested in courses in the humanities, environmental sciences, and education. 
  • Aspiring academics (average age = late teens, early 20s): Most are interested in engineering and physical sciences content. These learners are motivated by supplementing or preparing for traditional academic work.


Benefits for the university

Universities like the EUR can utilise MOOCs for their on-campus students; by creating online content, they offer their students the chance to watch lectures ahead of class time, so that they can more effectively use the classroom for interactive activities. 

In the long term, Coursera gives universities the ability to magnify the work of their great lecturers: professors who spend their lives achieving excellence and mastery in their field can now convey that enthusiasm, passion, and learning to thousands, or even millions. The online education space is still very young, and will only stop growing when the world’s thirst for learning is satiated.

There are so many opportunities with online courses: targeting new students; helping to transform the lives of learners who would otherwise have no access to education at this level, and showcasing the best of EUR’s teaching and research. In my role as a partner manager, I work closely with EUR to develop a strategy for their MOOCs. During my visit to Erasmus last week, I met with faculty from various departments, as well as with the Risbo team, to share best practices of online pedagogy and discuss upcoming MOOCs in production. Watch this space- there are many exciting MOOCs almost ready for launch!