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Dutch university to offer free online courses

Dutch university TU Delft is to offer courses as ‘Massive Open Online Courses’ (MOOCs) on edX. EdX is a non-profit platform for online education through which MIT, Harvard and others, make a range of courses accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world, who has access to internet. The free courses are open to everyone, without prior education or entry examination.

An increasing number of renowned universities worldwide are publishing their best modules as Massive Open Online Courses on edX and other platforms. TU Delft has opted for edX as this non-profit platform ties in best with TU Delft’s vision for online education. EdX is building a network of the world’s top universities. Next to TU Delft, Australian National University, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, McGill University, Rice University and University of Toronto are joining the edX universities such as MIT, Harvard en Berkeley.

“Delft University of Technology has a long history of providing courses that push the boundaries of technological innovation,” said Anant Agarwal, President of edX. “TU Delft’s decision to make their courses available under Creative Commons license aligns perfectly with edX’s commitment to make its platform open source and we are so pleased they are joining edX.”

In the coming academic year, TU Delft will get started on its first MOOCs: Water Treatment Engineering, Solar Energy and Introduction to Aerospace Engineering. The complete material on these courses will be posted on edX: in addition to video recordings, course material and trial examinations. MOOCs will be taught just like courses on the campus: in a fixed period of eight weeks and with opportunities for interaction between fellow participants. The modules come with homework and a certificate of participation may be issued by the DelftX on completion. EdX recently announced that MIT-professor and TU Delft alumnus Walter Lewin will also be adding a course.

Opportunity to learn more about online education
“We are extremely pleased to be joining the ranks of the edX universities”, says Anka Mulder, Secretary General and Director of Education at TU Delft and the driving force behind online education at the university. “We see edX as an opportunity to learn more about online education. And it means we can continue to improve the regular education on the campus. Moreover, it draws worldwide attention to education and research at TU Delft.

Experience in online education
”TU Delft already has considerable experience in online education: more than one hundred courses have been published as OpenCourseWare. With OpenCourseWare students are not tied to the campus rhythm of eight weeks, as in the case of MOOCs, but they can set their own pace. For example, courses created by TU Delft in the field of Water Treatment are now also being used by the University of Bandung (Indonesia) as well as by employees of water companies that use the material to stay up-to-date, and the Delft Design Guide is used by industrial design engineers to stay abreast of developments in their field.

Solar Energy
TU Delft’s first MOOCs are introductory modules. Arno Smets is responsible for Solar Energy.“TU Delft’s reputation in the field of education is internationally very strong. We are developing an introduction to all the different aspects of Solar Energy for edX. So it’s about the working principle of solar cells but also, for example, about complete Solar panel systems. It’s important for me that our courses will shortly be made available to people in Africa, for example, for whom this knowledge is important but which up to now was not accessible.”

Global demand for education
Anka Mulder: “Online educational material enables people to keep developing their whole life long in the Netherlands but also elsewhere in the world. UNESCO estimates that in 2025, some 80 million more people will be following higher education than is now the case. To meet that demand with conventional universities, three universities each with a capacity for 40,000 students would have to be built every week for the next twelve years. An impossible task. Online education offers opportunities to educate large groups of people. At TU Delft, we believe in the importance of gaining experience and exploring the possibilities right now.”