EduOpen is a new Italian MOOC provider that launched earlier this year in April 2016. Class Central spoke with Prof. Tommaso Minerva from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Italy) to learn more about EduOpen.
What is EduOpen and who is involved in it?
EduOpen is a network of Italian Universities, but it is also open to EU universities. At the moment it involves seventeen universities, which include a mixture of larger and smaller institutions from both northern and southern Italy. The full list of members can be found on en.eduopen.org.
EduOpen partner universities
EduOpen also has local and international partners such as Cineca, GARR, Blackboard, and LMSIndia.
The project started in April 2015, and it has been online since April 2016. EduOpen is a non-profit organization and all the courses are free. We currently have about 70 courses, but we have more than 100 courses in production.
The goal is to become THE Italian MOOC platform, but also to be open to other EU and worldwide experiences.
Who is your target audience?
At first the main target audience was students from the associated universities. But suddenly, after the first days , we changed our mind. Now it’s not possible to pinpoint a standard EduOpen learner.
Most are Italian, because the courses are in Italian, but we have learners with different ages and different profiles (e.g. students, professionals, and so on).
My role in EduOpen is to coordinate all the activities, and to lead the project and technical boards.
Why did the Italian Ministry of Education decide to fund a MOOC platform?
The simple answer is: because we asked. Seriously. We didn’t have a MOOC platform in Italy. Some universities were looking to the international networks — Coursera, Iversity, edX, and so on — but there was an open space for an Italian initiative. So the Ministry of Education sponsored the idea of some of us — the project started with eight universities — to offer free online courses. The mission is to be a public educational institution.
How is the organization structured and how many people are working on EduOpen?
The organization is a real network. The University of Foggia maintains the head of the project, while the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia offers all the technical support to develop and maintain the portal. We do this in collaboration with a small Indian company called LMS India.
But all the members have their own production teams and methodological experts, and we all meet monthly to discuss the project and involve other people and teachers. So each member university contributes with its own resources, and the people actively involved in the maintenance, production, and development totals around 80 at the moment.
Can students earn certificates or receive credits for taking courses on EduOpen?
Yes. We offer an attendance certificate and open badge for each course, and they are free. Next year we’ll start to offer proctored certificates and formal credits.
Are these credits transferrable between universities?
Yes. This is ruled by Italian laws. If somebody gets credit from a university then those credits are transferrable between universities.
Currently how many students have taken courses on EduOpen? What’s the completion rate?
We have more than 14,000 students enrolled, and the completion rate is quite high. More than 20% of learners complete their courses.
What is the technology platform behind EduOpen?
We used Moodle as our technology platform. We decided on Moodle after a deep evaluation of OpenEdX. Why Moodle?
Moodle is the most used LMS in the world, especially in Italy, so both students and teachers can feel comfortable with it. Moodle, for us, has a better pedagogical environment than OpenEdX, because it has a lot of teaching tools.
What are the plans for EduOpen in 2017?
As I said before, we’ll start to offer proctored certificates and formal credits in 2017. We’ll also start with Masters level programs.
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Dhawal is the CEO of Class Central, the most popular search engine and review site for online courses and MOOCs. He has completed over a dozen MOOCs and has written over 200 articles about the MOOC space, including contributions to TechCrunch, EdSurge, Quartz, and VentureBeat.