MOOCs offer an accessible and flexible way for learners to acquire job-specific web skills

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a valuable medium for building urgently needed web and IT skills. They can help meet the high demand in such qualifications across Europe. However, improved recognition is necessary to seize the full potential of MOOCs. These are the main results of the project “MOOCs for Web Skills”.

The project “MOOCs for Web Skills” (January-November 2014) aimed  to evaluate the possible impact of MOOCs in the field of IT and online education on behalf of the European Commission. It mapped the demand and the supply for online courses in the ICT field and found that currently there are more than 100 web skills-related courses offered by European universities and MOOC platforms.

A desk research came to the result that providers, students and employers alike regard MOOCs as valuable training opportunities to build web talent. A survey was conducted among online students, entrepreneurs, educational providers and experts, and MOOC providers. It identified great potential, but also shortcomings, in the current model of provision of online learning within Europe.

The project identified several fields of action that need to be addressed in the near future to seize the full potential of MOOCs in web education (the full report can be found here):

  1. It is mandatory to create or find a system that allows for a better recognition of online course achievements that is accepted in the labor market. Improved certification schemes are necessary for online learners to document their newly acquired skills, e.g. in e-portfolios. Also, they enable employers to base their employment decisions on a quality-assured system.
  2. Given that previous levels of qualification vary dramatically, there need to be differentiated learning opportunities that encompass the promotion of basic IT literacy, but also deliver more advanced and specialised qualifications such as coding and web design – depending on the entry level of an online student.
  3. On the pedagogical side, MOOCs should come along with more practical, hands-on learning experiences grounded in real life. Collaborations between web entrepreneurs, MOOC platforms, educational providers and the industry can contribute to aligning course content to the needs of the economy.
  4. Many respondents to an online survey complained about the lack of transparency of the online job market. There should be an improved monitoring of the qualifications that European employers deem necessary.

The project also saw the foundation of a network of stakeholders in the field of online IT education (currently 60 members). From 2015 onwards, the MOOCs for Web Talent Network will be taken over by the “Startup Scale-Up” project and build on this network by promoting educational partnerships between MOOC providers and European startup ecosystems.

About Startup Europe

Startup Europe is the European Commission’s action plan aimed at strengthening the business environment for web entrepreneurs in Europe, contributing to innovation, growth and jobs.