Berlin-based online education startup Iversity is partnering with Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft to offer ten €25,000 fellowships for professors, based anywhere in the world, who want to produce a massive open online course (MOOC).
The happy laptop-toting gentlemen above aren’t prospective students – they’re Iversity co-founders Hannes Klöpper (left) and Jonas Liepmann, who started the company in 2011 to offer course management tools for students and teachers.
“It’s early days [for MOOCs in continental Europe],” new Iversity CEO Marcus Riecke (right) told TechCrunch. “MOOCs are still oddly a bit of an insiders’ topic and the majority of folks both in the education sector and the internet sector haven’t yet heard about it.”
The fellowships offered today, in partnership with the nearly 100-year-old, privately-funded think tank Stifterverband, will go to produce Iversity’s first batch of MOOCs. The company expects to have up to five free courses online in Autumn 2013 and up to five more in Spring 2014.
The fellowship is open to any associate or full professor but at least five of the winners will be from German institutions. The course topics and structures aren’t specified, though there are guidelines on what the judges will be looking for (including demand from potential students, as determined by a public vote). A good MOOC should interact with students and videos should be custom content, not just recorded lectures.
Iversity is considering a number of business models, including certification fees for students and licensing its classes to replace some of those taught at university. The value of MOOCs as a replacement for in-person teaching is questionable, but they’re a worthy part of the education smorgasbord available to 21st century learners and, according to Iversity’s Riecke, a trend parts of Europe need to catch up on.
Before joining Iversity as CEO and investor in January, Riecke spent nearly six years in senior roles at eBay plus stints at defunct “German Facebook” StudiVZ and jobs portal Monster. The size of Iversity’s latest funding round wasn’t disclosed.
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