MOONLITE – Massive Open Online Courses Enhancing Linguistic and Transversal Skills and Employability

In the past two years, MOOCs have moved into the mainstream of European Higher Education. According to the European MOOC Scoreboard, 675 courses have been offered freely by European universities between March 2015 and February 2016. However, despite this impressive offering, there are few examples within the EHEA of institutions strategically deploying MOOCs to complement their own educational offer. Apart from virtual mobility arrangements among selected universities, partnerships in ICT-supported teaching and consequent recognition of achieved learning outcomes are scarce in European HEIs. The ECs 2013 Communication on Opening up Education states that “In addition to broadening access to education, wider use of new technology and open educational resources can contribute to alleviating costs for educational institutions and for students, especially among disadvantaged groups”. At the moment, this potential of MOOCs is not being fully realised, due to a lack of uniform arrangements for recognition, transferability and portability of credit, as well as due to an immature evaluation framework for assessing the quality and cost-effectiveness of the same MOOCs.In particular, MOOCs have the potential of “Supporting the efforts of EU countries to integrate refugees in Europe’s education systems and ensure their skills development is an urgent task in the light of the current migration crisis” (EC, 2016). Refugees face legal, linguistic and financial barriers to enter Higher Education, in addition to the challenges coming from the ‘lost time’ obtaining refugee status, finding accommodation, re-establishing links with family etc. With the help of credit-bearing MOOCs, students would be able to begin introducing themselves to their studies at their own pace, without needing to enroll the institutions, knowing that this credit would be eventually recognised towards their final degree, once they were able to access Higher Education more formally. Alternatively, MOOCs could help refugees top-up specific skills and directly enter the labour market.

Thus, the MOONLITE project has been designed to:

  • Widen and improve the HEIs teaching for registered HEI students (1st mission)
  • Create new educational pathways for refugees (serving society, 3rd mission) and
  • Build entrepreneurial and language skills among those two groupsT

The MOONLITE consortium is made up of experienced actors in the field, and between them include actors with experience in:

  • Designing and running MOOCs
  • Designing solutions for MOOC recognition and assessment
  • Setting up quality frameworks for MOOCs
  • Coordinating groups of institutions producing MOOCs
  • Researching the contribution of MOOCs to language teaching

Specifically, the consortium aims to:

  • Identify opportunities and barriers in recognizing MOOC-based learning for students and refugees
  • Create institutional and cross-institutional scenarios to exploit MOOCs for credit-bearing HEI courses & future employability amongst students and refugees
  • Implement a set of scenarios in partner HEIs and amongst our partnership reaching 175 learners, refugees and registered students
  • Create a cost-benefit analysis tool, allowing Higher Education Institutions to calculate the impact of MOOC-provision on their triple bottom lines (financial, environmental, social)
  • Run an open online course targeted at MOOC providers and refugee support groups on how to design and utilize MOOCs for refugees while make learning resources available beyond course duration
  • Create a vision and recommendations, aimed at European policy makers and institutional leaders, for a more viable and strategic role of MOOCs in European HEIs

The project will help Europe consolidate around a more coherent approach to credentialisation of MOOC-based education. This will in turn lead to an increased flexibilisation of the Higher Education system, by allowing a much greater range of accredited learning opportunities to both enrolled and non-enrolled students. In particular, we believe this will improve the accessibility of Higher Education to marginalised groups, which will be even more pronounced for refugees, as MOOCs offer the ideal bridge for them into Higher Education.