What is the point of a MOOC for an arts organization?

You may have heard of  the partnership Orange, a large French telco company, has developed since last October with the Grand Palais-National Museums Association (Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais, also called Rmn – GP) about an open and massive online course (or MOOC) on “Impressionism, from scandal to consecration.”

Since 2011 with the launch of the first MOOC by Stanford University on artificial intelligence, success did not lie. According to the latest statistics of Open Education Europa, over 3,000 MOOC are now available worldwide (vs about 2,000 in March), a quarter coming from Europe. With the creation of FUN (France Université Numérique – France Digital University), it seemed natural that the French national museums would also try to experience their own MOOC, through a partnership this time with Orange.

An interesting and interested partnership …

As we have said above, Orange and the Rmn- GP launched on October 20, 2014 a MOOC for the general public: “Impressionism, from scandal to consecration.” More than 15,000 people have registered. This MOOC was free and open to all and registers got access to new record every day to discover and deepen their knowledge of the history of art.
With this MOOC, Orange and the Rmn – GP sought to experiment with a new form of relationship with the public, based on a digital transmission project to disseminate knowledge of cultural content and reach new fans.
The willingness of both organizations was also to show that digital is a new way to democratize access to knowledge and to make culture accessible to the greatest number, the public becoming not only a spectator but also a contributor to the web. This could therefore be a tremendous opportunity to contribute to the dissemination of culture.

Home page on Orange MOOC on Impressionism

Home page on Orange MOOC on Impressionism

Launched on the occasion of the exhibition “Paul Durand-Ruel, The gamble of the Impressionists” in Musée du Luxembourg, Paris, the MOOC gave access to an 8-week training program. Each week courses were organized around a specific theme and included information resources in the form of video, learning and discussion forum activities. At the end of each sequence, a fun quizz allowed participants to evaluate themselves on knowledge and get badges knowledge.

The MOOC “Impressionism, from scandal to consecration” was hosted on Solerni, Orange social learning platform. And that’s actually where it gets interesting. Orange is known indeed for its philanthropy committed to museums including the Rmn – GP, as its excellent arts blog shows: Orange expo musées. The company’s investment as to test new tools and digital platforms is also common, as I have had the pleasure discover NFC technology at the Grand Palais exhibit “Dynamo” in 2013. So nothing new under the sun when Orange is launching this MOOC project in partnership with the Rmn – GP?

This is indeed a partnership, not patronage since the MOOC was powered by the new Orange platform Solerni, that was launched on 20 February 2014. This successful partnership has also served to promoting a fledgling platform with incredibly rich reviews.

But enough to make the evil spirit and see evil everywhere.

Why a MOOC and why impressionism?

Impressionism is one of the most famous artistic movement and that works are among those which know the biggest success globally (just have a look at the number of retrospectives or thematic exhibitions on that matter inNorth America and then wonder if other artistic movements have indeed existed).

According to Françoise Fernandes, head of cultural partnerships at Orange, “a common objective to Rmn – GP and Orange was to test out a new form of relations with the public and see how a MOOC could fit into the museum world. . ”

Thus Orange and RMN chose to link it up with the “Paul Durand-Ruel, The gamble of the Impressionists” exhibition, which has just ended at the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris. The MOOC’s topics were chosen in relation to this exhibition’s content. In this way, visitors were able to prepare for or continue with their visits thanks to the MOOC.

Continuing with the Grand Palais-National Museums association, Orange is starting to work on a MOOC linked to the “Picasso and Contemporary Art” exhibition that will be held at the Grand Palais from early October. Its team is also working on preparations for another two MOOCs: one with the Palace of Versailles and another with Paris’ Musée de l’Homme, looking ahead to it reopening soon.

What results had the MOOC on Impressionism?

It must first be emphasized that the figures are quite impressive (it was easy, but I could not resist).

The main figures to remember the first MOOC dedicated to Impressionism © Orange

The main figures to remember the first MOOC dedicated to Impressionism © Orange

Nearly 15,500 people registered on that MOOC, mainly European. The retention rate himself is about average for a course like this: nearly 10%. Indeed, since the end of 2013, a study from the University of Pennsylania gave the alarm: the retention rate, that is to say, the percentage of registrants following a MOOC all way through, is particularly low , of the order of 5% to 10% on average – some courses barely reaching 2%. And younger students, we could think very receptive to lessons on video, is actually show poor attendance. A big majority of registrants who validate a MOOC are indeed between 25 and 40 years old and therefore, alreayd graduated. “This shows that the initial training requires a specific environment, because people must first have learned how to learn,” said Antoine Compagnon, a professor at the Collège de France and author of an article on the MOOC in the latest issue of the magazine ” Debate “(“MOOC or cows”, June 2014). “The MOOC are not suitable for everyone or every occasion,” adds Andreas Kaplan, professor at ESCP Europe.

These observations are consistent with the this MOOC results: only 10% of learners are students.

MOOC figures
3036: The number of registered MOOC (1 August 2014) worldwide by Open Education Europa. In six months, this figure has increased by 44%.
25%: a quarter of the world MOOC (741 to 1 August) are from European countries. Spain is well ahead (253), followed by the UK (170) and France (88).
53%: the “hard” sciences and technologies account for more than half of European MOOC, followed by social sciences (17%) and business (15%).
63% of students who followed the University of Pennsylvania MOOC in 2012-2013 were employed full-time or were autoentrepreneurs. 60% of students were over 30 years.
9%: the proportion of enrolled people to a MOOC of MIT and Harvard in 2012-2013 who have completed more than half of the course. A mere 5% have validated their training.

Source: Les Echos

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