MOONLITE aims to develop cross-national cooperation services to explore larger-scale uptake of MOOCs in Europe as well as creating learning and collaboration opportunities for refugees, stakeholders and MOOC providers in member states. In general MOONLITE contributes to the further improvement of educational offerings to refugees both by HEI and in cross-regional collaboration. As such the MOONLITE project boosts the use of MOOCs to:
- widen and improve the HEIs teaching for registered HEI students (1st mission)
- create new educational pathways for refugees (serving society, 3rd mission)
- build entrepreneurial and language skills among those two groups
The role of Recognition
MOOCs do not automatically imply a better access to the higher education system. Without any formal credits for MOOC completion, MOOCs are just in-/non-formal learning. Moreover, access to higher education system requires in addition that those credits do count as part of a formal degree. Gradually we see a shift from producing MOOCs based on regular courses to a mode where open education offering is becoming a part of formal degrees. In this context adequate legislation for regulating open and online education is needed.
As such the MOONLITE project gives specific attention to this topic and addresses the issue of giving credits to MOOCs – recognizing those credit as part of form degree education and making formal degree education more flexible by short learning programs (SLPs).
At the moment, this potential of MOOCs is not being fully realised, due to a lack of uniform arrangements for recognition, transferability and portability of credit, as well as due to an immature evaluation framework for assessing the quality and cost-effectiveness of the same MOOCs.
In particular, MOOCs have the potential of “Supporting the efforts of EU countries to integrate refugees in Europe’s education systems and ensure their skills development is an urgent task in the light of the current migration crisis” (EC, 2016). Refugees face legal, linguistic and financial barriers to enter Higher Education, in addition to the challenges coming from the ‘lost time’ obtaining refugee status, finding accommodation, re-establishing links with family etc. With the help of credit-bearing MOOCs, students would be able to begin introducing themselves to their studies at their own pace, without needing to enroll the institutions, knowing that this credit would be eventually recognised towards their final degree, once they were able to access Higher Education more formally. Alternatively, MOOCs could help refugees top-up specific skills and directly enter the labour market.
Amongst others, the consortium specifically aims to:
- Identify opportunities and barriers in recognizing MOOC-based learning for students and refugees
- Create institutional and cross-institutional scenarios to exploit MOOCs for credit-bearing HEI courses & future employability amongst students and refugees
The project will help Europe consolidate around a more coherent approach to credentialisation of MOOC-based education. This will in turn lead to an increased flexibilisation of the Higher Education system, by allowing a much greater range of accredited learning opportunities to both enrolled and non-enrolled students. In particular, we believe this will improve the accessibility of Higher Education to marginalised groups, which will be even more pronounced for refugees, as MOOCs can offer the ideal bridge for them into Higher Education.