Editor’s Note: This post has first been published on edcetera – straight talk on edtech.
If the title does not make much sense to you, don’t worry. It’s French. CLOM is the French acronym for MOOC, Cours en Ligne Ouverts et Massifs and FUN is the acronym for France Université Numerique, Digital University of France. Trust me, French love acronyms and it is always a mystery to me when you pronounce them letter by letter or as one word. But I digress.
The point is that with the launch of FUN, France has become the first country whose national education ministry made the decision to take part in the global MOOC race. Interestingly, the tech provider is not a French company but edX. You might remember that I attended the LeMOOC workshop in Paris earlier this year where there was a lot of discussion about the need of a French MOOC platform but also that the technology should come from a French provider.
Apparently, the education ministry felt that there is no more time to lose and decided to opt in for the open source alternative from overseas. FUN is going to be independent from edX.org which leaves the option open to change or shape the platform to the needs of the French market and add features along the way, something that wouldn’t be possible with for example Coursera.
Over the years, FUN might end up being something completely different from edX.org and who knows, maybe features that are going to be developed in France could potentially end up being integrated in edX. That’s the power of open source and exactly what I meant when I wrote the edCetera article about “The True MOOC Revolution”.
To give you an idea about the size of this project: over 100 higher education institutions throughout the country are going to participate in this national MOOC portal. The first 20 courses are going to be open to subscriptions this month and start in January 2014.
The goal is to bring 20% of all courses offered by French institutions on the Internet by 2017 — France is investing €12 million ($16 million) into FUN.
Looking at some data points collected by French education startup Hello Mentor, FUN will make a big impact at the current state of MOOCs in France. Right now only 3% of French institutions are offering a MOOC, only 20% of French students know this option exists and a mere 2% of students who started also completed a MOOC.
It will also push France into the top five of European countries offering MOOCs according to the European MOOCs Scoreboard. Currently Spain leads the pack with 79 MOOCs, followed by the UK with 66 and Germany with 34. Though this might change when Germany’s MOOC platform iversity will announce its latest course offerings. But more on that next week.
We also must not forget that FUN’s impact won’t be limited to France, only. There is still a large group of countries whose official language is French. With more and more of those populations getting access to the Internet but not necessarily speaking English, FUN might become an important factor in their education and hence personal development and future.