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French universities go online with MOOCs

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France’s higher education system is going online with an extra eight million euros being invested in Massive Open Online Courses (Moocs).

France’s Minister for Higher Education, Geneviève Fioraso announced the new funding in addition to 12 million euros already planned to develop these online courses.

The first eight French Moocs start Thursday, via the French platform called France Université Numérique (Fun).

Some 88,000 people had already signed up for the 25 courses that are due to start this year.

These are taught by professors at some of France’s top universities, from the HEC business management school, to Sciences Po, France’s Institute for political science.

Fioraso said that France is lagging behind the US and the UK in developing Moocs.

“We are very late,” she told the press when announcing the measure. “In the US, in the UK, Moocs have been used for 15 years … This is a public investment to enlarge the influence of our universities and to improve the average level of knowledge of the whole population.”

France is targeting Africa with the planned programme.

“African people are very creative and they are very familiar with the oral tradition,” she said. “They also have very large countries with not very many campuses. So it is very well adapted to the African culture. We want to be more connected to the African development via Moocs.

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