Most MOOCs are being developed and run on universities' regular budgets with a very uncertain return on investment. But what if someone offers you funding to develop an open course? Suddenly the risk factor is reduced and maybe more reluctant universities can be helped into the open arena as well as possibly stimulating higher quality. That's the reasoning behind the latest installment in the MOOC saga.
This week the open learning platform iversity and the German Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft have launched the MOOC Production Fellowship. This initiative offers ten fellowships of €25,000 to institutions or teachers who wish to develop innovative new MOOCs. It's a competition to find the ten most innovative and sustainable MOOCs and the reward should inspire many universities to develop something really worthwhile. The aim is to have at least five new MOOCs online during the autumn of 2013 with the rest following in spring 2014. The MOOCs can be offered in any language but the applications must be either in English or German. The lucky winners will be able to offer their courses on the iversity platform but the university retains the rights to the material and the option to commercialize the course if they feel so inclined after it has been offered as a free MOOC in 2013-2014.
The applicants will present their ideas for public scrutiny and the fellowships will be awarded through a combination of crowdsourcing and the views of an expert panel. Full details of how to apply and some general guidelines of what the MOOCs should include are available in the details page. There's also a publicity video included below. Unfortunately it makes the common mistake of attributing the discover of MOOCs to the Stanford AI course of autumn 2011 rather than the original concept started by Siemens, Downes and Cormier back in 2008.
If the injection of some start capital that places clear demands on quality and pedagogic innovation then this sort of initiative may well stimulate more creative variations on the MOOC theme. It will hopefully also appeal to European universities who are interested in the concept but need a push to get started.