ELEMENTS of answering the demand of Vladimir Tikhomirov, Academic Supervisor of MESI


Raymond Morel

Individual member of SATW (the Swiss Academy of engineering sciences)

Member of the SATW Advisory board

Chairman of the SATW e-Switzerland plateform

Swiss representative at the IFIP General Assembly

Swiss representative at the IFIP TC3

Special consultant at the IFIP TC3

Consultant for IITE and UNESCO


mobile + 41 79 203 51 18









Moscow State University of Economics, Statistics and Informatics (MESI)


Nezhinskaya Street, 7, Moscow 119501, Russian Federation


 Description : 2222


Dear colleague,

I would like to ask you to share your vision on MOOCs and future education.

In my country, there is ongoing discussion on this matter with quit different positions: from denying MOOCs’ value for higher education to stating that MOOCs will substitute present higher education system in the near future. I would be grateful if you can find a couple of minutes and answer my several questions below.

  • Are there any discussions on MOOCs in your country / organizations?
  • If yes, who is involved in the discussion (government, HEIs, communities, educators, students, other stakeholders)?
  • What are the main positions and views of different stakeholders in these discussions on MOOCs? Are there some evaluations of MOOCs’ impact on higher education and its future; on sustainable development; on workforce market and other fields? Are there any official Declarations, Messages, Statements, etc. in this regard?
  • Does your institution develop MOOCs? If yes, why? If not, why?
  • Please let me know your personal opinion on MOOCs. E.g., what MOOCs mean for future education (threat, substitution, support, widening participation, etc.)?

Thank you for your attention. I would be grateful for your reply.

Sincerely yours,

Vladimir Tikhomirov,

Academic Supervisor of MESI

                  Dear Vladimir,


v  A bit backward to understand the historical context and evolution


Ø  End of the sixties – beginning of the seventies

The two main reasons to have a distance education system at large scale were :

·       Difficulties to access education buildings

·       Lack of teaching staff

Sometime in addtion you find also some considerations over the «ego » of a country (politics, language, culture, grandeur of a nations, etc….)

The main leaders were USA, Japan, UK and France

No big consideration on learning, but enthousiam about the speed of transmission and competition for those with the lowest cost of 1 hour of course (cf  WCCE 1975 in Marseilles – World Conference on Computers in Education – examples with TICCIT and PLATO)

Ø  1995-2000

till 1995 nothing new except some new countries like AUSTRALIA, Canada, Hongkong, NL,

around 1995 with the Web spreading in Education a new phenomena arrives with CBL, LMS etc and some new justifications as you can capture the student of an other location, you can be certify as an Australian student in  Entschede University

First preoccupations about knowledge recognition and e-portofolio

Ø  2010 -2013

After 10 years of Web 2.0 tools namely the social networks and the arrival of smart mobile it is nornal and evident to expect the  ….MOOCs

One must point out that today we have a big number of students in initial education students as well as a hug amount of forced « lifelong-learners » (unemployement, increased needs of for education, lose of qualification during the full active life, …)


« George Siemens, a professor in the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute at Athabasca University who started a MOOC on open education five years ago, is involved with Georgia Tech’s program. Siemens told the Times: “A lot of the relationships formed through that first course are still continuing today ... What we found was that in a MOOC, instead of the classroom being the center, it becomes just one node of the network of social interactions. »

« In a terrific post at his own site on current conversations around the web about MOOCs, Siemens explains how he and Stephen Downes got started with open online courses:

We were both at a Desire2Learn conference in Memphis in 2008. And we were both tired of arguing about connectivism (“is it a theory”). We decided that experiencing networked learning was important to understanding networked learning.

Instead of talking connectivism, we wanted to create an experience that was essentially connectivist: open, distributed, learner-defined, social, and complex.

In designing courses, educators often make important decisions on behalf of learners. The educator forms a “boundary” around the knowledge that will be explored in a particular course. Finding your way through, and making sense of, a chaotic landscape is the learning experience. Traditional learning design tries to reduce complexity. We try to increase awareness of complexity. Duplicating what someone else has decided is important is still a type of learning, but not one that exists outside of classroom settings. Real world learning is messy and chaotic.

We decided that we wanted to do for teaching and learning what MIT had done for content with their OCW initiative. »



v  I don’t give you the list of MOOCs that you can have by googling the web, you will receive more garbages than pearls. Nevertheless look at specific points to understand and discover some emerging trends and then after to inject in your specific Russian conditions


i.e as examples


Ø  From USA

The History and Future of MOOCs and the New Open Education Week - See more at: http://spotlight.macfound.org/blog/entry/the-history-and-future-of-moocs-and-the-new-open-education-week/

è Learn more from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan: - See more at: http://spotlight.macfound.org/blog/entry/the-history-and-future-of-moocs-and-the-new-open-education-week/#sthash.kTdEOAn9.dpuf

All that is based on

Transforming American Education
National Education Technology Plan 2010

U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology
Learning Powered by Technology


See also

the site Coursera https://www.coursera.org/

the site Udacity https://www.udacity.com/

the site edX https://www.edx.org/

the site of Venture-Lab http://venture-lab.org/

the CALTECH site http://work.caltech.edu/telecourse.html  and https://www.coursera.org/course/econ1scientists

the Brown site http://cs.brown.edu/courses/cs173/2012/OnLine/



v  You can do the same way for a set of selective countries :



OpenMooc  A fully open source MOOC solution http://openmooc.org/

UNED http://portal.uned.es/portal/page?_pageid=93,25451643&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

SpanishMOOC http://spanishmooc.com/


Ø  UK Leading British Universities Join New MOOC Venture http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/leading-british-universities-join-new-mooc-venture/41211  and web site of Blackboard http://www.blackboard.com/International/EMEA/Overview.aspx?lang=en-us  and https://www.coursesites.com/webapps/Bb-sites-course-creation-BBLEARN/pages/index.html


Ø  FRANCE Itypa http://www.itypa.mooc.fr/


Ø  INDIA - NPTEL http://nptel.iitm.ac.in/Onlinecourses/

Ø  KOREA http://blogs.worldbank.org/edutech/category/tags/keris

Ø  SWITZERLAND EPFL https://www.coursera.org/course/java-fr

Ø  KHAN ACADEMY http://chronicle.com/article/College-20-A-Self-Appointed/65793/  and https://www.khanacademy.org/



Ø  African Virtual University

Ø  China Open Resources for Education

Ø  Fundação Getulio Vargas - FGV Online

Ø  Japan OCW Consortium

Ø  Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Ø  Korea OCW Consortium

Ø  Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ø  Netease Information Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd.

Ø  Open University Netherlands

Ø  Taiwan OpenCourseWare Consortium

Ø  TU Delft

Ø  Tufts University


Ø  Universidad Politécnica Madrid

Ø  University of California, Irvine

Ø  University of Michigan


Ø  The platform that enables you to transform learning http://www.instructure.com/higher-education

Ø  Udemy https://www.udemy.com/

Ø  Canvas https://www.canvas.net/

Ø  Skilled up http://www.skilledup.com.au/

Ø  TAREASPLUS http://www.tareasplus.com/

Ø  Class Central is a free online course aka MOOC aggregator from top universities



Ø  By the way  it is quite amazing to put in Google the sequence « MOOC Russia » … !!!!....







v  As the New York Times (2 Novembre 2012 ) qualified 2012 as "The Year of the MOOC"



see also http://chronicle.com/article/What-You-Need-to-Know-About/133475/

« It is important to realize that MOOCs are not (yet) an answer to any particular problem. They are an open and ongoing experiment. They are an attempt to play with models of teaching and learning that are in synch with the spirit of the internet. As with any research project, it is unlikely that they will be adopted wholesale in traditional universities. Most likely, bits and pieces will be adopted into different teaching models. Some systems will offer open online courses as a means of drawing attention to their university. Others will offer MOOCs because it’s an effective way of getting out an important message or to raise awareness about certain topics. »

see also For Whom Is College Being Reinvented? http://chronicle.com/article/The-False-Promise-of-the/136305/   and   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course


v  cMOOC vs xMOOC   è MOOCs are really a platform


« Largely lost in the conversation around MOOCs is the different ideology that drives what are currently two broad MOOC offerings: the connectivist MOOCs (cMOOCs?) that I have been involved with since 2008 (with people like Stephen Downes, Jim Groom, Dave Cormier, Alan Levine, Wendy Drexler, Inge de Waard, Ray Schroeder, David Wiley, Alec Couros, and others) and the well-financed MOOCs by Coursera and edX (xMOOCS?).

Our MOOC model emphasizes creation, creativity, autonomy, and social networked learning. The Coursera model emphasizes a more traditional learning approach through video presentations and short quizzes and testing. Put another way, cMOOCs focus on knowledge creation and generation whereas xMOOCs focus on knowledge duplication. I’ve spoken with learners from different parts of the world who find xMOOCs extremely beneficial as they don’t have access to learning materials of that quality at their institutions. xMOOCs scale, they have prestigious universities supporting them, and they are well-funded. It is quite possible that they will address the “drill and grill” instructional methods that is receiving some criticism. « 

volution of MOOCs


Functional Programming Principles in Scala: Impressions and Statistics  By Heather Miller and Martin Odersky


« ….In this post, we discuss our experience giving the popular MOOC Functional Programming Principles in Scala, and provide some insight into who our course participants were, how, overall, students performed in the course, and how students felt about the course. We visualize a lot of these statistics in a number of interactive plots, and we go on to publicly release the data and the code to generate these plots within a fun Scala-based project aimed at allowing you to manipulate these statistics with functional programming in Scala, to generate HTML/Javascript for easily visualizing and sharing them. We encourage you to share what you find with us— we'll share a number of your plots in a follow-up post!

Functional Programming Principles in Scala is a MOOC given by our research group at EPFL, whose first edition was recently completed on Coursera. The certificates of completion for those who passed the course have been released, and in looking back as the dust settles— it was a great experience to have done a class like that which greatly exceeded our expectations in more than one dimension.

We had more than 50,000 registered students— an unfathomably large number in the context of traditional teaching. While large, that number doesn’t tell the whole story; as is typical for a MOOC, a statistical majority of those students participate no further beyond watching a couple of videos to find out what the course is about. Of the 50,000, about 21,000 students participated in the interactive in-video quizzes that are part of the lectures, and a remarkable 18,000 unique students attempted at least one programming assignment. A whopping 9,593 students successfully completed the course and earned a certificate of completion— that’s an incredible 20% of students, which blows the average 10% rate of completion for MOOCs out of the water. ….. »

Ø  Introduction to Genetics and Evolution  https://www.coursera.org/course/geneticsevolution

Ø  Principles of Economics for Scientists  https://www.coursera.org/course/econ1scientists

Ø  Drugs and the Brain  https://www.coursera.org/course/drugsandbrain

Ø  A History of the World since 1300  https://www.coursera.org/course/wh1300

Ø  Modern & Contemporary American Poetry  https://www.coursera.org/course/modernpoetry

Ø  Experimental Genome Science  https://www.coursera.org/course/genomescience

Ø  Students in Free Online Courses Form Groups to Study and Socialize  http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/students-in-free-online-courses-form-groups-to-study-and-socialize/38887

Ø  MIT Will Offer Certificates to Outside Students in Online Courses  http://chronicle.com/article/MIT-Will-Offer-Certificates-to/130173/

v  Some observations on a 2012 MOOCs survey to better illustrate the diversity of activities with MOOCs

Ø  Debating the ‘Flipped Classroom’ at Stanford  http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/debating-the-flipped-classroom-at-stanford/34811

Ø  MOOCs for Credit  http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/10/29/coursera-strikes-mooc-licensing-deal-antioch-university

Ø  New actors / partners in the field of education : start-up, new tutors, new management i.e. Sanjay Sarma appointed as MIT’s first director of digital learning http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/sanjay-sarma-director-of-digital-learning-1120.html 

Ø  Some new domain with big hope : language learning

Ø  Some well-known problems : plagiarism, security, digital identity, certification

Ø  Emerging of a new ecosystem

Ø  Unsolved problem like costs (free / paying courses), business models

Ø  Question around the integration in the society and in the economy


SIEMENS, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the digital Age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning. http://www.ingedewaard.net/papers/connectivism/2005_siemens_ ALearningTheoryForTheDigitalAge.pdf

DANIEL, J. (2012). Making Sense of MOOCs: Musings in a Maze of Myth, Paradox and Possibility. 20120925 MOOCs paper. http://sirjohn.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/120925MOOCspaper2.pdf

Matthieu Cisel, Éric Bruillard, Chronique des MOOC, Rubrique de la Revue STICEF, Volume 19, 2012, ISSN : 1764-7223, mis en ligne le 16/01/2013, http://sticef.org

v  For me all these innovative efforts are exciting and quite interesting, but I am not surprised because it is the follow-up of our historical evolution of the beginning. After 10 years of web 2.0 tools and a real understanding of usages for the social networks and emerging of the smart devices, we can wait for the years 2012-2020 news phenomena in the field of education in the broad sense. It is time not of the MOOCs (only artefacts these plateforms, servers, big data centers, softwares, etc…, yes prerequisites usefull), but, more than that, it is NOW time of the Learning Society

with the real beginning of Mobile[1] Learning / Mobile Education












v  From our workshop TC3-IFIP inside the UNESCO WSIS + 10 and beyond 2015

Extracts in the annex










v  Now considering not the Information Society or the Knowledge Society, but the LEARNING SOCIETY, you have not only the technology problems like :

·       Managing big data centers

·       Robustess of the choosen softwares

·       Security – Vulnerabilities

·       Perennity

·       Generalization

·       Etc


But also learning process  problems like :

·       Profile of the Learning Managers (…. In the pas we called them teachers !!)

·       Plagiarism

·       Evaluation at distance

·       Entry criteria and knowledge recogniition

·       E-portofolio

·       Creation of OER

·       Management of content

·       Certification

·       Etc


Without to forget the economical aspects like

·       Business model

·       Cultual diversites

·       Management of learning organisation

·       Governance of the educational systems

·       Etc…


But including the coherence with economical, sooial, political and cultural imperatives :

·       Integration of the basic contrains of the existing situations

·       Coordination of the perturbations of innovative changes

·       Promotion of the management of competencies

·       Empowerment and valorisation of the authorities


==è you need a strong vision and a shared leadership and especially to be able in a convaincing way to explain or to explicit or to defend what is the place of   EDUCATION in the Russian Society


To achieve this big challenge, you have some interesting premises like the law 11 of last May, the reputation and the network of MESI people as I observed during the 8oth anniversary celebration


Considering your language, your cultures and your institutions, MESI is THE body that should take the leadership of a network of MOOCs to integrate different populations and increase the level of e-litterates in a immaterial world where the key issue is the brain with creativity and innovation

(the cost of ignorance will increase in a continuous way, the cost of a non project also !).

To launch such a so big project over one decade at least, I will advice to prepare a pre-Study of feasibility, to define the perimeter of the whole problematic of course with Living Labs methodology and to provoke a complete decision at the highest level.


At your disposal for any question or complement of information


Sincerely yours,