A million strong and growing

On the morning of 19 July 2016, TU Delft’s Massive Open Online Course programme drew its one millionth subscriber. The colossal community of online educators and learners has come a long way since its comparatively humble launch a few years ago.

“It started off as a project to create four MOOCs,” Willem van Valkenburg, the Manager of Production & Delivery at the Extension School said. “We had a small team of four to support the lecturers in creating the courses and we had to figure out everything. The first two courses, Solar Energy and Water Treatment, started on September 15, 2013.”

Additional courses soon followed from the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering and other departments across campus. Now everyone from industry professionals to the merely curious can sign up for TU Delft’s 36 MOOCs, which cover a wide array of topics including Leadership for Engineers, Drinking Water Treatment and How Politicians Debate. There’s even a programming class, in Dutch, geared towards children ages 8 and up.

Students can select which courses to take via edX, a non-profit platform for online education that’s also being utilised by MIT, Harvard and other universities in order to make their courses available to anyone on the planet with access to the internet. While 20% of TU Delft’s subscribers hail from the United States, 13% are based in India and many more live in nations across the globe. According to Van Valkenburg, the most popular course so far has been Solar Energy, which has drawn 131,000 enrolments. Creative Problem Solving, the second most popular, has attracted 113,000.

“We are now working hard on the next step: ensuring that our students can earn credits for MOOCs from TU Delft, as well as those from partner universities and vice versa,” said Dr. Anka Mulder, the university’s Vice President. “This means that they will gain access to a wide range of courses from top lecturers around the world. The challenge lies in agreeing on which courses we recognise and how many credits our students can earn in a certain phase of their degree programme.”

This article was written by Brandon Hartley and originally appeared in Delta.