In this presentation I will present a critical narrative from my perspective as project leader of five externally funded course development projects at Karlstad University, Sweden. Spanning over the last six years and aiming at developing open online courses at advanced level with a combined scope of more than 60 ECTS in 11 courses, I will share my reflections regarding the micro, meso and macro level. This personal and institutional journey paralleled the MOOC Hype Cycle (Wharton 2015) as well as an analysis of open education by the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ). In the spring of 2015, the Swedish Government gave the UKÄ the task of analyzing the possibilities and potential obstacles to the introduction of MOOCs in the Swedish higher education system. This resulted in a change of the Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100) in September this year (Government Offices of Sweden 2018).
Although both the institution and myself began this journey as complete novices to online education, we were able to implement a sustainable model for open online course provision, which builds on and goes back to the basics of MOOCs such as CCK08, EC&I 831, or FDOL. The developed courses (c.f. Idea management, Understanding Customer Experience, Data Plane Programming) are offered in two different versions, running at the same time; as an “official” credit bearing distance course as well as an open online course. This course design has also been referred to in the Swedish context as “hybrid-MOOC” (Kahlroth et al. 2016). The course design is enabled by running the courses outside the institution’s LMS on a university-hosted WordPress multisite. Through this combination of officially registered students as well as open learners in the course, the financial sustainability of the single courses is secured. The officially registered students pay for the costs of running the course, while the open learners do not cause any substantial incremental costs.
On the meso level, the sustainability of this entire program is sustained through an ongoing backing by one of the University’s most important research financier, the Knowledge Foundation. The aim of the Foundation is to increase knowledge dissemination of the funded research to Swedish businesses. Initially in 2012, the focus of their call rested on flexible online courses, which were supposed to reuse and produce open educational resources (OERs) (Knowledge Foundation 2012). Later calls focused on flexible online courses which were supposed to “combine the advantages of MOOCs with the possibility of providing customized offerings” and forced the University to adopt a strategy for online courses for the strategically important research centers (Knowledge Foundation 2015; 2016; 2017). In our case, it institutionalized the course design we had done in the initial project and became the blueprint for the following projects.
In the presentation, I will show how this successful and ongoing program of open education, was in fact an evolutionary process influenced by a variety of random events, which easily could have taken a very different direction.
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Government Offices of Sweden (2018). Öppen nätbaserad utbildning för alla – nu blir det lättare att anordna MOOCs. [online] Available at: https://www.regeringen.se/pressmeddelanden/2018/06/oppen-natbaserad-utbildning-for-alla–nu-blir-det-lattare-att-anordna-moocs/ [Accessed 26-11-2018] (In Swedish)
Kahlroth, M., Ejsing, C., Herjevik, M. & Karlsson, N. (2016). Öppna nätbaserade kurser (MOOCs) i svensk högskola – Redovisning av ett regeringsuppdrag. Stockholm: Universitetskanslerämbetet. (In Swedish)
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Knowledge Foundation (2017). Utlysning – NU 17 – Nätbaserad utbildning för internationell positionering. Stockholm: Knowledge Foundation. (In Swedish)
Magnusson, P., Olsson, L. E., Netz, J., Sukhov, A. & Huck, J. (2018). Idea management course homepage. [online] [online] Available at: https://hhk3.kau.se/im/ [Accessed 26-11-2018]
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