The LoCoMotion project was co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union
Much of the excitement surrounding the potential of MOOCs has been due to the explosive rise in the number of people with access to the internet – 3.2 billion registered internet users in 2015, compared to just 400 million in 2000 (International Telecommunications Union, 2015) . Increased access to the internet means increased access to MOOCs, and in this context, MOOCs have been heralded by many as having the potential to revolutionize technology-enhanced learning – scaling up access to affordable educational opportunities for everyone on the planet.
The cost of actually producing MOOCs was identified by the LoCoMotion project group, as a barrier which would prevent the majority of educational institutions from participating in the expansion of education through the MOOC medium. While many MOOCs are available free of charge to participants, they cannot be produced for free. In 2013, the most widely promoted MOOCs were reported to cost anywhere from USD 45,000 to USD 200,000 to develop (Peterson, 2013) – beyond the budgets of most institutions.
The project group believed that if these high costs of producing MOOCs could not be overcome, the majority of institutions could well be excluded from developing MOOCs for their needs. They would be excluded from using MOOCs to cater for minority languages, specialist topics or topics that change quickly over time, and could eventually develop an over-reliance on MOOCs produced by big-brand, big-budget institutions rather than having the possibility to develop MOOCs themselves that are more relevant to their needs and contexts.
The LoCoMotion project aimed to develop and disseminate methodologies for low-cost MOOC production. By investigating and verifying the cost-effectiveness of a range of low-cost MOOC production techniques, it aimed to increase the capacity of institutions to develop MOOCs and reduce the barriers they faced in relation to the affordability of developing them. The project thus set out to contribute to an increase in the development of MOOCs in Europe, improving the sustainability of MOOCs, and increasing the range of topics available from those of general interest to more specialized audiences, minority languages and topics that change quickly over time.
Five European institutions took part in the LoCoMotion project.
Institute of Technology Sligo, Ireland (Coordinator) – a higher educational institutional with over fifteen years’ experience in online distance learning using low-cost development methods, and experience in MOOC production.
The Technical University of Delft, the Netherlands – a university which is very active in Open Education, being a key member of the Open Courseware Initiative in Europe and active in the production of MOOCs for Coursera and edX;
The University of Girona, Spain – a university which is active in the development of MOOCs and has run training courses on “DIY” MOOC production;
The Fachhochschule Bielefeld, Germany – active in the rapid low-cost development of e-learning content; and
Bath Spa University – a university with extensive experience in distance learning and e-learning research.
The core activities in this project included development of a ‘primary’ MOOC by the project team; development of ‘secondary’ MOOCs using low cost approaches; and identification and dissemination of low-cost methodologies for MOOC production.
- The MOOC, called ‘Making MOOCs on a budget’ was designed using direct instruction, constructivist and connectivist techniques to actively engage participants in testing the recommended methodologies for their cost-effectiveness and to collaboratively identify others. The MOOC was delivered 3 times, to a total of approx. 1,000 registrants.
- Ten secondary MOOCs were developed by the partners of the project using the low-cost techniques promoted by the project,
- An extended virtual symposium was held over a 4-week period which provided an opportunity to engage with leading figures in the area of MOOCs and technology-enhanced learning.
- Dissemination of low-cost approaches to MOOC development took place through more than 50 insitu/online presentations.
- The team collaboratively developed a low-cost MOOC development guidelines tool based on the experience of the project, and published it as an open source document for ongoing updates.
Long term benefits
The Making MOOCs on a budget MOOC will be available indefinitely beyond the end of the project here on WikiEducator as a support to people who wish to make low-cost MOOCs in the future.
All materials produced by this project are freely available for re-use.