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E-learning in European Higher Education Institutions

The emergence of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) was initially seen as a revolutionary challenge to traditional higher education, however European universities not only survived but adapted to the new technologies. The freshly published study E-Learning in European Higher Education Institutions, released this November by European University Association (EUA), shed some light on how European higher education institutions have responded to new strategic challenges. The new publication presents and analyses the results of a survey conducted by EUA between October and December 2013 which gathered 249 answers from higher education institutions from across Europe.  

The results of the survey showed that apart from a few exceptions, almost all institutions are involved in some forms of e-learning. The vast majority of institutions offer blended learning and online learning courses while less frequently, but on the rise, they offer other forms of provision, such as joint inter-institutional collaboration and online degree courses. Furthermore, nearly half of the surveyed institutions said they already had an institution-wide strategy (for e-learning) in place, and one fourth they are preparing one.

The survey also demonstrated that European universities are still highly and increasingly interested in MOOCs. Although only 12% of the responding institutions offered MOOCs or were just about to launch them, almost half of the institutions that did not yet offer MOOCs indicated their intention to introduce them.  The main reasons for developing MOOCs seem to be for having international visibility, for student recruitment, for the development of innovative teaching methods and for rendering learning more flexible for the institution’s own students.

The study contributes to the broader discussions on trends and developments relating to the digitalisation of learning in European higher education, which are part of a wider agenda of learning and teaching innovation. At this regard the European Commission’s High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education also recently published a European University Association