Study on the recognition and accreditation of MOOCs at higher education institutions

CHE Consult teamed up with the Bertelsmann Stiftung, Kiron Open Higher Education and the Stifterverband to draw up an overview study on the recognition and accreditation of MOOCs. The study outlines and classifies numerous examples of good practice, and makes concrete recommendations to higher education institutions, students, MOOC providers and higher education policymakers.

Skills gained outside higher education should enable the participant to earn university credits. This demand was reflected in a landmark resolution by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs way back in 2002. Since then, digital courses taken outside university may count towards up to half of an academic degree. In practice, however, credit is rarely awarded for individually acquired skills. The rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs) and other forms of digital education delivery has given fresh impetus to the debate on the possibilities – and risks – involved in the opening up of higher education.

There is a constant growth in the provision of digital courses, particularly MOOCs. The growth of digital formats has led to a diversification of such courses, which are offered to various target groups across the entire lifespan. The transition between university and non-university educational offerings appears to be increasingly blurred, making it difficult to classify a number of digital courses into traditional categories. The accreditation of skills gained outside higher education has always been a difficult issue, so the notion of digital course offerings being theoretically universally available on the internet takes it to a new dimension, and increases the uncertainties felt at higher education institutions concerning the evaluation of online courses.

The recently published study entitled “Digital anerkannt” (digitally recognised) was initiated by the educational organisation Kiron Open Higher Education and implemented in close cooperation with CHE Consult and Hochschulforum Digitalisierung (German Forum for Higher Education in the Digital Age, HFD). The study evolved in the context of the “From Camp to Digital Campus” project funded by the Bertelsmann Stiftung. It offers critically reflected, practice-based assistance in dealing with the recognition and accreditation of MOOCs. The study also provides actors in higher education with positive impetus for integrating high-quality digital teaching and learning formats into their courses in a needs-based, transparent (open) manner.

The overall picture shows that the recognition and accreditation of digitally acquired skills is not clearly defined in many places, in spite of the fundamental political will and the strong commitment of individual players. Concerns about digitisation and institutional uncertainties often emerge with regard to the legal framework and quality assurance. There is no agreement on any additional standards that may be required, such as conducting examinations in digital contexts. Based on the analysis and examples of good practice, the study provides recommendations for central stakeholder groups on dealing with digital teaching and learning scenarios.





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