Yesterday the EMOOCs 2019 Conference – Europe’s largest convention for professionals in the (online) education sector kicked off. More than 1,200 attendees from 500+ organisations from around 50 countries will travel to Naples over the course of this week to attend the much anticipated conference.
The convention, organised by Federica (one of Europe’s larger players in the open-access course landscape) and hosted by the University of Naples Federico II, comes at a time when the higher education landscape is undergoing rapid change. Alongside the need for different skills on the back of 21st century developments and better matching between skills gained during education and those applied at work, technology is the lead driver of change.
Technology is enabling higher education institutions to build new curriculum structures, offer an enhanced mix of learning courses and use data-driven ways of measurement to optimise learning outcomes. MOOCs – massive open online course – are at the centrefold of the hype, and will also be the main area of focus during the conference in Italy. With the ability to reach millions around the world with a single click, MOOCs are seen as a breakthrough mode of learning for all stakeholders in the scene: students, employers, educational institutions and academic staff. According to one estimate, the global MOOC market size is projected to boom from the current $4 billion in 2018 to over $20 billion by 2023, at a compound annual growth rate of 40% during the forecast period.
Reskilling the European workforce
One of the sessions being organised, on Wednesday, will delve into the role MOOCs can play as part of the wider need to reskill Europe’s workforce. With emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, data science, quantum computing and robotisation looming around the corner, the demands put on workers in many professions are changing. A host of professions risk going out of business, meanwhile the nature of much remaining work is set for change, while entire new jobs will enter the labour market. This disruption that will occur in the skills landscape means that contemporary generations are up for arguably the largest reskilling task in history.
Chaired by Carlos Delgado Kloos, a Professor at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, the session ‘Continuous education and reskilling the European workforce’ will attempt to give answers to three main questions. How can European universities harness the power of MOOCs to increase the availability and accessibility of continuous professional education in order to scale the reskilling and upskilling of the European Workforce? What can Europe learn from high ranked universities in the US and the UK that are leading the way with MOOC developments? And, what financial and regulatory hurdles are impeding the growing maturity of MOOCs in Europe?
Four experts in the learning landscape will provide their views on the matter – Mauro Calise, a Director at Federica Weblearning; Deputy Head of the European Commission’s Innovation and Technology unit; Dhawal Shah, CEO of Class Central; and Joris Schut, a Business Consultant at BearingPoint. The latter speaker, the youngest of the quartet of panel experts, joined the global consulting firm in the summer of last year. He focuses on helping organisations embrace the future of work, and has gained experience with the design and deliver their learning solutions. Schut is an avid fan of MOOCs – in the space of 1,5 years, he has completed over 140 massive open online courses, including a number provided by Harvard Business School.
Headline speakers during the EMOOCs 2019 Conference include Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX; Simon Nelson, CEO of FutureLearn; Dil Sidhu, Chief Content Officer at Coursera; and Candace Thille, Director of Stanford’s Open Learning Initiative.
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