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The university wants to use its MOOCs to introduce its students to various professional domains, allowing them to make informed choices about the kinds of accredited Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs) and campus courses they want to follow.

A MOOC – a Massive Open Online Course – is a free online course designed to accommodate massive numbers of participants, with course materials distributed over the web and its participants distributed all over the world. A course usually takes three to six weeks to complete and involves lots of peer interaction amond the students, all of whom do their coursework whenever and wherever is most convenient for them. MOOCs use a lot of video, quizzes, texts and homework and conclude with an exam. MOOCs are not accredited.

Using MOOCs, UU wants to build experience and expertise in new teaching methods and making education widely available. That is why Educate-it coordinates the university's MOOCs.
Other objectives UU hopes to achieve with MOOCs include:
– Create name recognition for Utrecht University.
– Build its (international) reputation.
– Show how Utrecht University excels based on its four strategic themes.
– Market (post)graduate online education and studying whether MOOCs increase registration for UU academic programmes, particularly at the (online) Master's degree level.
– Facilitate scientific research by generating data.

UU and online education
Utrecht University already has considerable experience with online education. The MOOCs are a means of introducing people to the university's SPOCs and campus education. Utrecht University has been developing SPOCs – Small Private Onlien Courses – since 2012, which made its one of the first organisations to offer them alongside a fully online Master's degree programme. The university currently offers over 70 fully accredited courses completely online through the Elevate Health platform, which UU co-created with UMCU. This platform offers small-scale courses with intense coaching and a great deal of interaction both among the students and between students and teachers. The advantage of offering SPOCs is that they allow students from all over the world to take their courses remotely without having to travel to Utrecht. UU will also be using these courses for any remedial teaching students might need before taking part in a Master's degree programme.

UU has no intention of putting all of its on-campus teaching up online, but it is important to keep developing off-campus courses in parallel with the on-campus one to promote internationalisation and valorisation as described in the strategic plan. In that context, some future hybrid solution may allow our on-campus students and international, remote students to take part in the same courses and programmes side by virtual side.

Educate-it has now coordinated the development of five MOOCs and published them on the Coursera platform. All five are linked to Utrecht University's four research themes: Sustainability, Life Sciences, Institutions en Dynamics of Youth.

The UU corporate site has more information on the MOOCs UU is currently offering.

The Elevate-site has more information about the SPOCs UU offers.