Big Data and cohorts


Within the framework of the #MOOCLive project, the company ANEO will develop technological solutions to analyze the massive data generated by the participants of the CVV’s MOOCs. One of the objectives of this study is to identify the typical behaviours of MOOC students and possible problems they encounter when taking the courses. In the long term, these analyses will be implemented to develop new pedagogical formats.

The data analyses solutions could also be used for new projects, for example to assess the countries compliance to international treaties within the framework of a project dedicated to International Health Regulations, conducted in partnership with WHO.

Advanced statistical analyses (data mining, machine learning) as well as basic technologies for manipulating unstructured data (Big data) will be carried out.

The research project will aim to investigate the many issues associated with distance learning, such as students’ perceptions of distance learning and strategies for platform use, whilst simultaneously aiming to improve tracking and success rates.

Project Managers:

Vincent Rocchisani and Boris Demay (ANEO) will develop a model based on a Big Data approach using the logins into the FUN (France Université Numérique) platform.

Stages of implementation:

1) Data extraction (October 2016)

2) Data mining and statistical analysis (November – December 2016)

3) Design and development of an analysis model (January-April 2017)

4) Model Testing and Presentation (May-August 2017)



The Centre Virchow-Villermé is involved in several other projects regarding  data use and accessibility (open data) in the field of health.


The MOOC «Digital Research within the Health and Life Sciences field» (#MOOCSciNum), dedicated to the evolution of research tools, devotes two sessions to the use and management of mass data (see syllabus of the course.)

The CVV also organises several activities on this topic such as workshops and call for projects.


  • Célya Gruson Daniel – Thesis (in preparation): Discourses and conceptions associated with open access and open science: multi-situated and digital ethnographic survey with institutional actors of French research between 2013 and 2016. (CRI / UTC / Laval and CVV financing). >> Read more.


  • “Fostering Open Science in Global Health” – Workshop at the World Health Summit 2016 – by Peter Grabitz, Célya Gruson-Dniale and Stefanie Schütte. >> Read more
  • Call for partnerships (launched in February 2017, unpublished results): “Numerical methods, climate and health”. >> Read more.



The Centre Virchow-Villermé also aims to promote bi-national research in the field of population-based cohort studies.

As neighbours, France and Germany have similar problems in terms of health and demography. Both countries face a demographic transition and need to address challenges in terms of aging populations, especially in Germany where fertility rates are low. In addition to these demographic challenges, both countries have common public health issues regarding communicable and non-communicable diseases. Despite these commons problems, data on the subject are scarce and only a few projects are devoted to these questions.

The objective of the Centre is to tackle this poor data availability and to stimulate international cooperation on these issues.

Cohort studies are essential for epidemiology and public health research. They study the link between health status and exposure to multiple risk factors (such as lifestyles, environment and genetic predispositions) by following different populations over time. Cohort studies are often used to formulate hypotheses, and are followed by Randomized Clinical Trials.