Dutch Minister of Education visits Leiden University to learn about MOOCs

Dutch Minister of Education visits Leiden University to learn about MOOCs

Free online course on terrorism attracts thousands of students and gains attention of Dutch Minister of Education.

On January the 8th, Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science – Jet Bussemaker – visited Leiden University – Campus The Hague to learn about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Later that day, the Minister sent a letter to Members of Parliament explaining why MOOCs should be placed high on the national education agenda; It could improve the quality of education for Dutch students while it could also enhance the international reputation of Dutch universities.

Leiden University – Campus the Hague is one of the first Dutch universities to develop MOOCs. In June 2013, Leiden University launched its first MOOC taught by prof. dr. Stefaan van den Bogaert about European Law. In September 2013, prof. dr. Edwin Bakker started Leiden University’s second MOOC called “Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory & Practice”. This course attracted more than 25,000 students from 160 countries. In January 2014, the second run of this MOOC was started, again attracting thousands of students.

In this online course of six weeks, students watch video lectures about terrorism and counterterrorism, take quizzes and make a final exam. In addition, students can make ‘peer reviewed assignments’ that stimulate them to give critical feedback to other students and improve their own writing. In the Discussion Forum, participants learn from different perspectives offered by a course with a truly global audience. In order to increase the interactivity of such a massive course, course staff organised a “Google Hangout” – live video chat – and invited a number of students in the Netherlands to Campus The Hague during a Meet Up.

The Minister was very enthusiastic about her visit to Leiden University and promised to invest a yearly €1 million to further stimulate MOOCs. After her visit, she was a guest in the Dutch prime time talkshow “De Wereld Draait Door” where she spoke about the importance of MOOCs.

In the coming months, Leiden University will develop another six MOOCs. Enrollment for the MOOC of prof. dr. Edwin Bakker on Terrorism and Counterterrorism is still possible.