Open and online

Internet has changed many sectors. We shop online, we book holidays online, we listen to music online. Now it is education’s turn. Students are expecting this from their university.


You often hear that internet distracts students, because they consume so much media, torn between texting, posting on Facebook and watching YouTube. And yet they also have an astonishing ability to focus on elaborate videogame play for six-hour stretches or to watch complex, television dramas in binge sessions that can swallow a weekend.

TU Delft recognises these trends and we have taken different steps to prepare our university for this development. In 2007, TU Delft started with open courseware, offering free access to high-quality educational content organised as courses. In last five years, we have published more than hundred courses for both bachelor’s and master’s students.

This year, we are taking the next steps. We have started a pilot with online distance education for three master’s programs and we have joined the EdX Consortium to offer massive open online courses (mooc).

The three master’s programs will offer their master program online. Students will pay the regular tuition fee for it, but don’t need to live in the Netherlands to follow these courses. After completion, they will earn an MSc degree from TU Delft. The programs will start with small numbers of students (10 to 20).

Why moocs? Because our university is a strong advocate for open education and we believe the next step for education is online. Moocs are an interesting step into both directions. The EdX Consortium is a not-for-profit consortium of top universities founded by MIT and Harvard. The platform is open-source and the courses will be openly licensed. But most important, there is a strong focus on research of innovation in education, not only online but also for campus education. Moocs are about the big numbers. We are aiming at 50,000 students per course. Students who pass the course will get a non-formal certificate of mastery.

The first moocs, Introduction to Water Treatment and Solar Energy, will start in September of this year. We aim to learn from these first DelftX mooc experiences to make each new mooc a better one. The pilots of open and online education are good way to improve our education and prepare the university for the future. Professors should embrace this. Our students are expecting it.

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