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European ­niversities Catch the Online Wave

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A surfer literally catching a wave.

European universities are beginning to catch the online education wave by embracing massive open online courses.

Credit: Predict-HD

Europe is beginning to embrace massive open online courses (MOOCs), which have steadily gained popularity in the United States over the past several years.

Several MOOC platforms have launched this year in Europe, and a consortium of open universities is offering a database of their MOOCs. German science foundation Stifterverband and new European MOOC provider Iversity in June hosted a European MOOC production competition, awarding $33,000 to each of 10 finalists to develop their MOOC. Iversity is looking for ways to offer students course credits, and last week announced that two of its courses would provide transferable credits at the home universities of the course professors.

However, the concept of MOOCs might never resonate in Europe as it has in the United States, due in part to the low cost of higher education in Europe, says the European University Association's Michael Gaebel.

Still, Europe's multiple languages and diverse cultures could help distinguish European MOOCs, educators say. The European Commission this week will issue a directive on online resources and teaching at all levels, and will launch an open education resource website. "Normal business is not going to work: universities are going to have to turn to technological innovations to be able to cope with the big increase of numbers," says the commission's Dennis Abbot.

From The New York Times
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