Ensuring the best online education: What is EOCCS?
A conversation with Stephanie Lambert, Administrator at EFMD - EOCCS
It’s been around six years since the rise of MOOCs. Adapted to habits of today’s students, these resources announce the beginning of a new era for education and eLearning.
The fact of the matter is that there are now a whole lot of them. Platforms hosting these online courses can be excellent like edX, FutureLearn or Coursera but they won’t be able to fully ensure the quality of each course. At least, this is the case for business and management courses. Even for a university proposing MOOCs, it can be a good thing… or a bad one but there just won’t be any way to verify it.
That’s where EOCCS comes into the game.
What is it?
Simply put, EOCCS is a newly launched certification system for online courses and eLearning designed for business schools and corporate development and built by a small team from the European EFMD group (known for having developed the internationally renowned EQUIS accreditation). “We can say EOCCS is like a startup under the larger umbrella of EFMD” says Stephanie Lambert, Administrator of EOCCS team.
There was a vacuum in the quality assurance of online education in business & management and the new label fills it. “It took us a whole year to put together the certification process and our method” says Dr. Lambert, “during this time we received help and precious feedback from several business schools and corporate universities that were also the first to have had their online course certified. We call them pioneers”.
Among these “pioneers” we find HEC Paris, Open University, BI Norway, Grenoble EM, IE Business school, Sberbank Corporate University in Russia and others.
The process resembles labels like EQUIS or AACSB. There is an enquiry, an application, a form to fill, a self-assessment course report and the gathering of information to prepare for the several review panels that will visit the candidate school and finally, the acquisition or renewal of this certificate. The validity of the certificate lasts 3 years after which you’ll have to renew it. The process is entirely online, responsive and fast.
Just like the other accreditations, EOCCS shows the same engagement towards Assurances of Learning (AoL), qualitative and quantitative feedbacks and applies the same student-centric approach to attain continuous improvement.
But online courses add difficulty to the question of reaching continuous improvement. How do you ensure learning without having your classroom and students around you? How do you make sure that your course is as qualitative as a traditional course? Or how do you make sure your students will have the best learning experience? Will they be able to work together from a distance? These are kind of questions that must be answered by a school to prove their AoL’s and get the certification.
To help institutions get there, there are tools like learning analytics that use big data and data visualization to answer questions and tackle issues. They also help students as well as professors in the creation of the best course possible. By collecting data from feedback or diverse behaviors observed on a platform such as a digital learning manager, one can ensure continuous improvement.
Nevertheless, Stephanie Lambert calls for relativism here, “Learning analytics are definitely a part of the Assurance of Learning, but what’s more important is to ask yourself what data you want to collect”, a thought that matches the definition of Sebastien Fraysse, calling it “the Art of asking the right questions to get the right answers”.
Beliefs and visions
EOCCS believes in the development of changes in higher education and its instruction. Simulations, micro learning and peer-to-peer learning are the new faces of education that this newborn certification thinks will come out more and more.
It wants to be the main support to the online education movement, “not only a stamp of approval” claims Dr. Lambert, “EOCCS wants to create a whole community around online education”.
At TestWe, we’re fans of MOOCs but we also noticed a problem: seeing how they’re not certified, there’s a lack of legitimacy when you talk about your personal or online education on your resume. Could this problem be fixed with EOCCS certifying MOOCs platforms?
“Maybe in the near future, yes” says Stephanie Lambert, “to certify published online university courses prior to them being launched on a platform may work also, as the course you follow will be certified”. Pretty good news!
Online learning is definitely a side of education that will rise higher and higher, with more people taking courses and managing their learning online. Yet it is important to stay true with ourselves and realize the crucial importance of traditional education too. As Stephanie Lambert says “Online learning is a very good complement to traditional education, it has a lot to add to it but it’s not necessarily an alternative”.
EOCCS, good news for business & management students
Overall, students taking courses from EOCCS certified institutions, whether it comes from a MOOCs platform or directly from their school or if it is higher education or corporate, can feel relieved: they’ll learn something that will be officially recognized and relevant professionally.
More importantly this new certification announces the official recognition, in business & management education, of online learning as a relevant source of knowledge that learners must have in their portfolio.
It’s only the beginning and we’re excited to see how EOCCS will grow over time and how they will build the precious community that online learning needs to solve its problems and ensure a better education for all current and soon-to-be managers and business people.
Interested in the EOCCS label? Want to know more and be a part of the community? You’re right! Start by checking their website http://www.efmdglobal.org/eoccs.