What makes my MOOC stand out?

Keith Pond, Director of EFMD Online Course Certification System (EOCCS), and Antonia Lütgens, Project Consultant for EOCCS, celebrate the 5th birthday of EOCCS and discuss findings from a recent workshop. 

Happy 5th birthday EOCCS!

EOCCS celebrates its fifth birthday this year (2021), an appropriate point for us to reflect. At the 5 year point for EOCCS there are 106 courses, offered by  21 institutions holding the 3-year certification.  At EOCCS we want to ensure that our standards still fit the widening range of online courses that are submitted for certification.

A hallmark of quality in systems and processes is to test assumptions and practice at regular intervals. Running a workshop at the eMOOCS 2021 Conference hosted by the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany, gave the EOCCS team a valuable opportunity to review our certification standards.  We did this by asking a group of online education experts – in a workshop format – What makes my MOOC stand out?

EOCCS webinar

After an introduction to EOCCS the workshop delegates focused on the four areas of the EOCCS standards:

    • Institutional Context
    • Course Design & Composition
    • Course Delivery
    • Quality Assurance Processes

Recording their discussions on Padlet, delegates highlighted key areas that they considered were vital to be able to judge the quality of any MOOC.  Their deliberations are summarised in Figure 1:

What we discovered from the workshop is that EOCCS standards, at their fifth birthday, are robust, flexible and focused on the key elements that differentiate quality.

For example, in the “Institutional context” standard, EOCCS invariably finds excellent quality in institutions that have a clear online strategy, whether they are Open, Online, Blended, Hybrid or Traditional Universities.  With a clear strategy, key resources are allocated appropriately – financial, infrastructure and human resources – to support high levels of student experience.

In the “Course Composition” standard, EOCCS rewards well-designed courses that encourage interaction and engagement. Often the engagement is derived from the subject matter itself, from the mechanisms for collaboration that are used or from the nature of the instructional model.

EOCCS webinar

So, why are standards important?

Differentiation of MOOCs or online courses is an important tool in a crowded and confusing marketplace. Providers with strong brands need to maintain their brands when they move online, whilst new brands need to make their voices heard.

For students, the transferability and value of the micro-credential earned from successful completion of a course can be augmented by recognition of benchmark standards.  In Europe, for example, the recognition of ECTS credits is vital for flexible study and transfer of credits between institutions.

Overall, the promotion of benchmark standards, helps to develop and encourage good practice, drives quality and improves acceptance of online courses for both academics and learners.

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