MOOCs in the Higher Education Landscape

The Centre Virchow-Villermé for Public Health Paris-Berlin (CVV), one of the European pioneers among academic institutions in the production of MOOCs has launched four courses since January 2014 on the French national MOOC platform (FUN: France Université Numérique). Four new courses will be available soon with two of these MOOCs on the American platform CourseraIn the late 2015, the Centre Virchow-Villermé MOOC Factory will have produced a total of 17 MOOCs.

These MOOCs are a first step for the CVV, which aims at fostering education in global and public health. These crucial issues bearing a high social impact require a broad access and distribution of educational resources. But what initiatives could be linked with MOOCs to offer a free and open online education to the broadest audience? We wish to present in this article the current e-learning academic landscape and give our vision of global and public health education enhanced by digital technologies. This vision relies on sharing open educational resources, using different but complementary learning digital platforms in order to adapt them to the various demands and needs of learners in higher education.

Today, different solutions are available for e-learning contents based on higher-education resources.
The development of MOOCs since 2012 in North America has strongly contributed to the improvement of access to higher education resources and has given them more visibility. However, MOOCs offer free contents, which are not necessarily “open”, meaning it is not possible to broadcast their content or to reuse it on other platforms.

Within universities, MOOCs are a new part of the digital learning environment. E-learning platforms and departments of Information and Communication Technology in Education have been settled-up by higher-education institutions since the creation of Internet. These digital learning environments offer a space where students can access educational resources related to their courses. Learning management systems, such as Moodle and Blackboard, provide several options: homework space, discussion forum boards, etc. However, these contents are only available for registered students. A situation criticised by the movements for Open Education Resources (OER), a movement promoting open and free access to knowledge. The OpenCourseWare a platform created in the early 2000’s is one of the first initiative grasping this matter: it enables the repository of all open education resources (syllabus, presentation) using specific licenses: Free or Open. The licenses indicate that the content can be reused either without restriction (CC-BY or CC-BY-SA) or with the mention of specific conditions, such as non-commercial (NC) or non-derivatives (ND).

In this higher-education landscape, how to successfully articulate these different plaforms to offer the broadest education possible and to meet various learning expectations (diplomas, certification, lifelong learning)?
One solution might be to provide an OpenCourseWare common ground that delivers resources using CC-BY-SA licenses (for more information, please refer to the Creative Commons blog-article). This would allow a broader access and, especially, an improved visibility for educational resources (syllabus, lesson plan, course presentation, audio files).

In addition, a selection of MOOC videos dedicated to be shared on a web video channel would be a good way to improve pedagogical resources visibility. Indeed, offering free access to knowledge and making the educational contents produced by the CVV stand out are crucial issues in a digital economy. Regarding the integration and the certification of this knowledge, we could benefit from the complementarity and even the hybridisation between the MOOC format and other digital learning features.


On one hand, MOOCs offer a user-friendly interface, along with pedagogical innovations and benefit from large media coverage. On the other hand, digital learning environments meet educational needs of universities in terms of tracking and evaluating students. They also ensure students’ data privacy, not always protected on MOOC platforms (part of the business model of some for-profit platforms). The CVV states that a modular e-learning education today requires interoperability between Open Education, MOOCs and Digital learning environments.

The CVV intends to create smooth interactions between these different platforms in order to offer educational and pedagogical innovative solutions and to address public and global health issues.

Célya Gruson-Daniel

Licence Creative Commons


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