Benchmarks for MOOCs: the OpenupEd quality label

Rosewell, Jon (2015). Benchmarks for MOOCs: the OpenupEd quality label. In: International Conference on Enhancement and Innovation in Higher Education, 9-11 Jun 2015, Glasgow, GB.



This paper reports on the OpenupEd Quality Label, a quality assurance process for MOOCs (massive open online courses) developed for the European OpenupEd portal (

The OpenupEd Quality Label is offered as a way of ensuring that MOOCs offer a good quality educational experience. It adopts a quality enhancement approach, based on initial self-assessment against benchmark indicators, followed by a review leading to an improvement action plan. It is designed to complement both an institutional course approval process, and ongoing evaluation and monitoring of courses in presentation. The overall approach and the benchmarks are derived from the E-xcellence e-learning quality projects (

The benchmarks are divided into two groups: course-level and institutional. There are 11 benchmarks that apply at course-level and which should be checked for each MOOC. There are 21 institutional benchmarks grouped into six areas: Strategic Management, Curriculum Design, Course Design, Course Delivery, Staff Support and Student Support. The institutional benchmarks are only reviewed periodically. The benchmarks are supported by the E-xcellence manual which provides background material and more detailed indicators of good practice, with a supplement for MOOC-specific aspects. A ‘quick scan’ checklist is provided to capture the extent to which each benchmark is achieved. Other templates are provided to gather evidence and prepare an action plan.

OpenupEd has further distinctive features intended to enhance the quality of MOOCs. The initial providers are members of EADTU (European Association of Distance Teaching Universities) and will bring extensive experience of open and distance learning to bear on MOOCs. Their commitment to ‘open education’ acts to remove unnecessary barriers to learning, and OpenupEd MOOCs should demonstrate specific values: openness to learners, digital openness, a learner-centred approach, support for independent learning, media-supported interactions, recognition options, a focus on quality, and embracing a spectrum of diversity.

The OpenupEd label should benefit all stakeholders in MOOCs. Students can be reassured about the experience they are committing to. Employers can recognise the content and skills demonstrated by a MOOC certificate. MOOC authors can achieve recognition for their input. Institutions can protect their brand reputation. Funders can be reassured that products are worthwhile. Quality agencies, who work on behalf of all the above parties, may find their task eased.

Viewing alternatives

Download history

Item Actions