Digital Universities in the MOOC Era: Redesigning Higher Education

The digitalisation of higher education, as a consequence of technological development, has long been confined to providing more efficient management systems. Only recently has the digital culture made a major inroad into academic life, with the diffusion of MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses, as the new e-learning format to deliver top quality content for free to millions of students worldwide. While HE Institutions are broadening access to their academic offer to online users worldwide, the corporate and NGO sectors are exploring the benefits of a more qualified online approach to training and dissemination for both personnel and clients, as well as the general public.

The unbundling of the different processes involved in education delivery, especially credentialing, with the emergence of new actors on the educational market leads us to question what the future holds for traditional HE. What are the new social demands? How do educational institutions intend to cope with these fast-changing audiences and targets? Are corporate MOOCs a fierce competitor to HE institutions or a worthy ally?

The answers lie in the intersection among digital culture and educational environments. Bringing together people from government, academia and media, the ICEM International conference 2017 intends to focus on the emerging of MOOCs as a disruptive innovation in the traditional academic eco-system.

We are looking for high profile speakers and contributors to shed light on specific aspects of these four tracks:

Digital culture and educational environments

The advent of MOOCs has opened up new, and previously unthinkable, scenarios in higher education. Millions of learners are now aware of this extraordinary offer, and platforms are mushrooming all over in the world. As MOOCs become part of the established institutional offer, HE institutions have to work out how these new distance learning models fit with traditional institutional curricular design and development, teaching, credentialing and research practices. What is the strategic response to funding constraints and the need for flexible provision? Are MOOCs destined to become a new form of shadow education? How is the MOOC phenomenon going to be institutionalized?

Space vs. Interface design

A key aspect is the relationship between MOOC formats and instructional design. One might expect MOOCs to play the same disruptive role that books and printing literacy played in XV century learning. However, books had a well-established format and interface that MOOCs do not have yet. How to create an interface culture for the digital education? How much do learning space and format influence education? How can the user experience be improved both in the classroom and the digital world?

Platformism – new paradigms in online learning

Today, two giant operating systems – Microsoft MsDos and Apple Os – dominate the computer world, with two ancillary developments – Android and iOS – controlling the mobile environment. In the Higher Education environment there is still open competition among traditional e-learning software solutions and those offered by the main MOOC providers. How is platformism influencing learning environments, and what operational conditions are necessary for learners to exercise their choices? Moreover, should we expect a new oligopoly to emerge, concentrating the best of higher education in a few giant hubs with their proprietary formats and platforms?

Going visual: video language and pedagogy

Finally, it seems that video is here to stay. Talking heads, interactive videos, virtual labs augmented reality; all kinds of magic can be reproduced through our screens. How do we expect the traditional student-teacher relationship to be reshaped with the new opportunities web-videos are offering to provide top quality educational resources in a distance-learning environment? What is the role of quality and aesthetics and personalisation? How do we accommodate the changing relationships between teacher and student in the online environment?