The MOOC potential to address European challenges in CPD and continuous education

Pitt, Rebecca; Friedl, Christian; Jansen, Darco and Driha, Oana (2017). The MOOC potential to address European challenges in CPD and continuous education. In: Higher Education for the Future: Accelerating and Strengthening Innovation. EADTU Conference Proceedings (Ubachs, George and Konings, Lizzie eds.), EADTU, pp. 369–380.



Despite being a relatively new phenomenon, MOOCs have started to be employed not just within higher education systems, but also within a corporate context for recruiting and training of new employees, human resource development (HRD), marketing, and even brand awareness (Grossman, 2013; Iversity, 2015; Radford, 2015; Sreeleakha and Manikandan, 2015). MOOCs are seen flexible, innovative learning approaches, based on the skills required by today’s and tomorrow’s labour force, for improving the quality and relevance of Higher Education. Research shows that learners perceive MOOCs to benefit them in terms of improved job performance, personal improvement, and the development of skills for a potential new job. MOOCs are therefore considered to be a tool for designing a strategic opportunity to meet local requirements and develop related skills and capabilities (e.g., Patru and Balaji, 2016).

MOOCs’ potential to help graduates attain relevant skills before employment, as well as with continual upskilling once employed, has been largely ignored in the published literature. Only recently some research was done on graduates’ skills, employability and the use of MOOCs to provide flexible and affordable learning opportunities to both employers and “new traditional” graduates (Calonge and Shah, 2016). Only limited data is available for the use of MOOCs in the European context although the potential is enormous (see for example CEDEFOP report on Skill shortages and gaps in European enterprises and Mourshed et al., 2014). It is of interest of European MOOC platforms and universities to increase their offering that fits the needs of both citizens, the workforce and companies in each of their respective European markets.

To this end, this paper examines the perception, current use of and potential for MOOCs as continuing professional development (CPD) tools and beyond by businesses based in Europe. Based on recent research involving 56 business representatives across 11 European countries carried out as part of the BizMOOC project (see: ), trends are discussed in current MOOC use and the potential for scaling the use of specific MOOCs for CPD and widening participation purposes. We also examine the current relationship between MOOC providers (HEIs) and businesses, and the challenges to more widespread adoption of MOOC for CPD purposes and how these concerns can be mitigated. We conclude with recommendations for strengthening and further developing the relationship between HEIs and businesses going forward and the potential for further collaboration.

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