Serendipity

FUN, the French MOOC platform had already registered 226,000 students.

FUN, the French MOOC platform had already registered 226,000 students. © Robert Kneschke | Dreamstime.com

Le Monde, the French daily newspaper, recently discussed in an article the French mania with MOOCs. A few weeks after its launch, the French MOOC platform FUN had already registered 226,000 students. The ‘best (non) seller’ among the 30 MOOCs on offer is ‘From Manager to Leader‘, with 36,000 registered students and a 20% completion rate. Its author, Cecile Dejoux, a teacher at CNAM, qualifies this success as a complete – yet pleasant – surprise: a serendipity!

The magic of MOOCs for Ms Dejoux seems to be something so simple as sharing a joint learning experience with her students. Even if teaching takes place online, she can almost see her students, ‘touch’ them. She experiences the same type of pleasure that the unknown author of a ‘how-to’ book gets when it suddenly reaches the #1 position in the bestsellers list.

What if, after months of questions regarding the future of MOOCs, we were faced with a pleasant surprise. What if, after all is said and done, the promise of MOOCs can be fulfilled?

We would have then to ask ourselves how to evaluate this ‘pleasant surprise’.

Is it just about numbers? Are 2.5 million students better than 226,000 students? Is Coursera better than FUN? Or is it about profit? In that case, are all MOOCs bad quality?

The same question is addressed to the promoters of the Open Education Challenge, which has started the evaluation process. In eight weeks, they received over 600 proposals for education start-ups from 74 countries, and created a huge community of innovators in education. These  innovators share the same passion and deserve the same attention.

They ask for dialogue and must benefit from the same opportunities to push their ideas further. They come from Europe, Oceania, Asia, Africa and America, and this diversity has a huge symbolic dimension.

They are the living expression of what innovation in education means: a serendipity!

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