Since the Lund University School of Economics and Management (LUSEM) launched its first MOOC in December 2016, it has drawn participants from all continents. Active participants are now close to a thousand.
Since the end of December 2016, LUSEM’s first global online course (MOOC) on Digital Business Models has had 5,000 visitors, over 1,500 registered learners and nearly 900 of those are to be considered active, says Markus Lahtinen, Lecturer and Researcher at LUSEM.
Markus Lahtinen is one of the driving forces behind the course, which he developed together with Andreas Constantinou and Benjamin Weaver.
“We now reach out to countries and areas where Lund University historically has had a weak footprint. For participants in these locations, it is important to acquire knowledge about the supporting mechanisms of the digital economy, but at the same time it is also important for us to create interest in research and higher education efforts here in Lund”, he says.
A course session lasts for four weeks and as soon as one session has ended, a new session is initiated. The team at the LUSEM Department of Informatics, as of the end of February, is in its third round.
Helps improve the course on campus
“Our reach is the strongest among graduates, already established in the labour market. It is a known fact that an increasing number of professionals use MOOCs as a means to facilitate their ongoing professional development. We also collect detailed statistics about what parts of the course are perceived as particularly challenging. These parts we analyse more closely and improve our corresponding course on-campus.”
In addition, says Markus Lahtinen, the MOOC can also be used as a complement to more traditional on campus education in what is called the “flipped classroom” mode of teaching. Students following the campus-course at LUSEM appreciate the opportunity to listen to the content again.
“The interaction between the digital and the analogue presence is particularly valuable.”
Another important aspect is that the statistics collected can be used as a database for research related to digital business models, as well as e-learning. Ratings from participants have generally been very positive. On a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 is the highest, the average review of 4.5 was awarded by participants who evaluated the course.
Is MOOC still a “hype” that costs resources from campus programmes?
“The leverage of a MOOC is significant if you choose to see its positive effects. If corresponding costs were put into the traditional education pipeline, we would certainly have been able to observe some minor improvements. But as mentioned earlier, we have used the video recordings from the MOOC in a ‘flipped’ mode and shared with the students on the campus counterpart. Students have identified this as a significant advantage in the course evaluations—and the possibility of repetition is an important step for deep learning. Working with video and MOOCs is, thus, a method of investing in campus education.”
“Additionally, imagine the benefits of reaching out globally to those countries and areas, who to a limited extent—if ever—had access to higher education. At the same time, I also think that it is important to show, to the developed part of the world, that Lund and Sweden offer content that is of practical relevance, also for working professionals and other curious interest groups. Finally, it enhances the value of the institution and it is also increasingly expected to offer MOOCs. The lack of presence in digital channels can even be perceived as both ignorant and overly conservative.”
What then, costs in relation to revenues?
“Based on a simple extrapolation of the accumulated interest in the course, a cautious calculation suggest that we have reached full cost-recovery by mid-2017. This comes with the help of the participants who opted to pay a small sum to open up the examination and the possibility of obtaining an electronic certificate, when they completed the course. But above all, the main aim of the MOOC is to strengthen LUSEM’s digital profile and thus we also generate a growing interest in all our educational offerings at LUSEM.”