MOOCs and OERs for web talent: A hybrid open panel at OER15

Europe is facing a shortage of a million workers in the web and technology sectors, while youth unemployment remains a persistent societal and economic issue. Are MOOCs the answer to these issues? Or are they one of many means to address the shortage in web talent – but as part of an ecosystem which includes free and paid courses, self-paced learning resources, learning communities, and formal education providers? Are current conceptions of vocational training, certification and acknowledgement fit for purpose, and are MOOCs challenging these conceptions or reinforcing them?


Our panel at OER15 will debate these questions. In the spirit of openness, we invite you to participate in this event by contributing to the online discussion. During the conference, we will conduct a live panel with some of the contributors which will be joining us in person or virtually. Panelists will refer to your contributions online, and we will use social media to facilitate live interaction with the audience outside the room.


The European Commission has highlighted the potential of web and mobile startups to boost economic growth and well-being in Europe. Yet this potential is threatened by a predicted shortage of over a million skilled workers. The MOOCS for web talent network was initiated by the EC’s Startup Europe initiative to address this challenge. During 2014, the network has run webinars, conducted desk research and a survey of employers, employees and MOOC providers, connected a workshop at EC TEL 2014, and a stakeholder meeting adjacent to Slush in Helsinki.


The aim of this hybrid open event is to share the findings of our work and open up the network to a wider community. Participate in the online discussion by clicking on one of the following emerging themes:


Certification, completion, and measures of success in a MOOC Attributes of an effective MOOC learner Appropriate pedagogies for massive open online vocational learningEmergence of new educational ecosystems 


At the OER15 conference, we will conduct a live panel which would draw on and summarise the online discussion. This panel will be attended in person by several contributors and virtually by others, and will also be webcast for remote participants and recorded for use as an OER.


Moderated by Yishay Mor and Laia Canals, the panelist include Allison Litlejohn,Carlos Alario, Tom Staubitz, Davinia Hernández-Leo, Mar Pérez Sanagustin, and Catherine Mongenet amongst others.


MOOCs are an important means to address the shortage in web talent – but as part of an ecosystem which includes free and paid courses, self-paced learning resources, learning communities (e.g. open source communities), and formal education providers. In order to create sustainable and effective MOOCs for web talent, which address the real needs of web and mobile entrepreneurs, industry, educational providers and MOOC platforms need to collaborate in dynamic and agile partnerships.


Web entrepreneurs and their current and potential employees need hands-on learning experiences, grounded in real-life problems – not abstract, passive learning experiences. In order to provide such experiences, providers need to work closely with eLearning pedagogy experts and industry partners. However, MOOCs using professional software development environments to provide hands-on experience to participants have encountered various challenges mainly owing to the varied levels of digital literacy among participants.


Employers (and potential employees) need mechanisms for validating the quality of MOOCs and other learning opportunities, and verifying the knowledge of participants. This could be provided by formal credit systems (e.g. ECTS), but also by portfolios and community credits (e.g. stackoverflow badges).


Related Readings:Final report for the MOOCs for webskills project.Press release and the full survey report, including policy recommendations.Outputs of the entire project.


Milligan, C. and Littlejohn, A. (2014) Supporting professional learning in a massive open online course. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 15 (5) 197-213.  ;



Margaryan, A., Bianco, M., & Littlejohn, A. (2014). Instructional quality of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Computers and Education, 80, 77-83



Milligan, C., Margaryan, A., and Littlejohn, A. (2014). Workplace learning in informal networks. Journal of Interactive Media Environments, special issue ‘Reusing Resources – Open for Learning.



Milligan, C., Margaryan, A., and Littlejohn, A. (2013). Patterns of engagement in connectivist MOOCs. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 9 (2)


The validation aspect is very important and one which is being currently discussed in a number of forums. I might add that the proposal of looking at different forms of validation and not just in terms of ECTS, would possibly ensure that the spirit of the MOOCs designed for lifelong learning is maintained.  As it is, if the validation is just accepted for higher education credit value systems, this might limit the MOOC possibilities for people not necessarily interested in higher ed. 

See on Scoop.itEffective MOOCs


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