NOU 2014: 5

MOOCs for Norway— New digital learning methods in higher education

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14 Skills needed in working life

14.1 The importance of education for growth and prosperity

People are Norway’s most important resource. Human capital makes up about 80 % of national wealth. An investment in human competency is an investment in the most important basis for future growth. In other words, education is important not only for the individual but also for further development of the Norwegian welfare state.

Norwegian value creation and prosperity are founded on extensive economic, cultural and political interaction with the surrounding world. Working life is becoming increasingly knowledge-intensive and the extensive interaction with other countries requires new knowledge and skills compared to earlier. This places great demands on highly developed knowledge, innovation and adaptability. The white paper Long-Term Perspectives for the Norwegian Economy from 2013 shows that more efficient use of labour and capital is the most important source of prosperity growth over time.1 The OECD points out that greater utilisation of human resources may result in more and better jobs, greater economic activity and higher participation in the labour market. Productivity growth is linked to increased labour quality – which means labour characterised by, e.g., updated skills, creativity and collaborative capacity. Modern growth theory greatly emphasises human capital as a source of economic growth. A high level of human capital promotes the ability to carry out new tasks and acquire new knowledge, for innovation and adaptation.

Education is crucial in order to ensure a knowledge-based working life. The social mandate of the universities and university colleges is to educate candidates that society needs, and conduct research that benefits society over the short and long term. The education and research sector must satisfy the demand for knowledge and skills in working and social life. A high-quality education sector is therefore one of the most important preconditions for further growth and for taking on global and national challenges.

A well-developed higher education sector, free higher education and good schemes for education support contribute to good access to higher education in Norway. At the same time, it is important to have opportunities for lifelong learning. An important part of the societal role of universities and university colleges is therefore to facilitate lifelong learning, regardless of age, place of residence and life situation. Norway is a high-cost country and global competition means that working life must become increasingly knowledge-intensive and undergo constant development and adaptation. This entails greater demands than previously for employees to acquire new knowledge and skills throughout their lives.

14.2 Need for skills development

Businesses compete globally, but are located regionally. Regions and nations compete to be an attractive location for knowledge-based companies. Whether or not a region is competitive depends on several factors, where expertise and the ability to adapt to change are essential. The availability of employees with relevant expertise is a key factor for businesses in all sectors. The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) is concerned with “learning life” and we see that private sector enterprises are increasingly working together to create centres of excellence and learning clusters, such as Campus Ålesund and Campus Asker.

There is a need for different skills in working life in the intersection between industry and digital online communities. There is a need for accessible and scalable knowledge in both sectors. Many knowledge-intensive companies need increasingly specialised knowledge, and need to draw on the expertise of an international and specialised knowledge menu that can be assembled in an à la carte-fashion.

NIFU has mapped continuing education and training in Norwegian small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).2 The report states that most businesses in Norway are experiencing higher skills requirements in many areas, particularly in the use of technology and professional updates in the company’s areas. A large number of companies state that they have difficulties recruiting people with correct or sufficiently extensive expertise, especially in areas where the industry structure is specialised and industry-focused. The report shows that SMBs invest less in continuing and further education than major companies. Knowledge-intensive companies with high education levels invest the most in continuing and further education. Outside university cities, the majority of businesses’ expenses on continuing and further education is on formal continuing professional development. Private course providers and industry-oriented courses are the main providers of skills development in SMBs. Within the higher education sector, university colleges outside the major cities are the most active providers of continuing and further education.

14.3 Use of MOOCs in skills development – input from organisations in working life

The MOOC Commission has invited the social partners’ organisations to provide input as to what extent and in what ways MOOCs can help meet the labour market's need for skills. The following organisations were invited to submit written input: The Federation of Norwegian Professional Associations, Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS), Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), Spekter, Unio and Confederation of Vocational Unions (YS). Apart from the Federation of Norwegian Professional Associations and Spekter, all of the invitees contributed written submissions to the Commission. The input from the organisations that have submitted written contributions will be presented in the following. The input is not reproduced in its entirety. The Commission’s references to working life in the recommendation include both public and private sectors.

Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS)

KS notes that municipalities and county authorities represent knowledge-intensive jobs with a high level of education. There is currently a high degree of cooperation between local government and the higher education sector, both relating to continuing and further education and qualification of unskilled workers. Approximately 20 % of full-time equivalents in the municipal sector are performed by unskilled workers. While there are wide variations between different sectors, there is a need in the school, kindergarten and healthcare sectors for more personnel with formal education and training. At the same time there is a need for skills development among many current workers. A good example of this is the need for continuing and further education of teachers.

KS notes that recent reforms, such as the Coordination Reform, NAV reform and reform of the child welfare service, clarify the need for strategies and actions to meet the skills requirements linked to good-quality services. New reforms, tasks and demands in the future, for example as a result of a possible local government reform, will reinforce this need. According to KS, a key step will be better cooperation with education institutions, not only to qualify and provide further training to own employees, but also to ensure that the content of undergraduate education is in line with the skill requirements.

According to KS, MOOCs could play a role as a knowledge dissemination tool. A large number of municipal services are produced around the clock, and it is problematic to shut down operations or bring in temporary workers to provide opportunities for professional courses and continuing education. This is especially true in the large municipal service areas of care and early childhood. The municipal sector has employees all over the country, and in some sectors it is particularly challenging to access the necessary expertise in rural areas. In some contexts, it is also difficult to get qualified personnel for positions that require skilled workers or higher education. MOOCs can provide better opportunities for decentralised education alongside work.

Offering joint courses and skills development to an entire department or position group can be challenging. It will nevertheless be feasible with training that is independent of time and place. MOOCs would make it possible to bring in top expertise from a larger geographical area, another part of the country or another country.

MOOCs could be a source of lifelong learning and adaptation of continuing and further education in relation to business or operational needs. The combination of work and education will be more accessible. It will provide opportunities for both formal education and more informal skills development, and could be a tool for the implementation of skills development for employees in many areas.

MOOCs also provide an opportunity for sharing. The municipal sector produces a lot of skills development materials in-house. The services in the different municipalities are similar in nature and their needs can be congruent. KommIT has a skills platform that can be used to share courses and training modules.

There are many national centres of excellence. It is important that their skills are propagated, and that appropriate tools are used for this. MOOCs could be a channel for this type of dissemination. A video or lecture can be more accessible than a report. Some municipalities also possess specialist expertise in particular areas. This could be made widely available in the same manner.

It is important to look at issues related to quality assurance and recognising qualifications acquired through MOOCs. From an employer’s perspective, this will entail a need for awareness and knowledge about the various offers and what they represent, as well as confidence in the providers and approval systems.

A ministry-appointed committee has been formed to assess skills outside the formal education system, and possible placement in the Norwegian Qualifications Framework (NKR). Here are some parallel issues, which are also mentioned in the MOOC Commission’s interim report: “The MOOC Commission recommends having the Ministry-appointed commission tasked with inquiring into skills outside the formal education system also assess skills developed through MOOCs without exams and credits.” KS believes this work must be viewed in context. Employers are responsible for recognising and appraising skills in their own activities, based on the activity’s goals, tasks and priorities.

The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO)

In its input to the MOOC Commission, LO pointed out that the education system must be adapted to the requirements of future working life and deal with development trends such as increased international competition, technological advances, changes in industrial structure, rising numbers of elderly employees and high immigration. There is a considerable need for continuous skills development in working life, both in the public and private sectors. The desire for skills development is great. The Confederation of Vocational Unions’ (YS) employment survey for 2013 shows that almost half of Norwegian workers are motivated to pursue continuing and further education.3

According to LO, MOOCs provide, among other things, the following opportunities:

MOOCs can help expand access to higher education and continuing education and enhance the quality of programmes. It can free teacher resources for closer follow-up of students and pupils.

MOOCs can help support a high level of learning in the workplace, both in the private and public sectors. The courses represent a substantial simplification in that one can be at work during the training. The courses can easily be tailored to actual needs.

MOOCs can help strengthen cooperation between higher education and working life. To enable Norwegian companies to compete, the education and training system must have the ability to respond to labour market needs and provide individuals with opportunities for further qualifications.

MOOCs can help channel information about the labour market and distinctive characteristics of Norwegian working life (the Norwegian model) in schools and education institutions to make pupils and students well prepared for working life.

MOOCs can help bolster vocational higher education (vocational college). Vocational higher education is clearly underdeveloped relative to demand in the labour market. The new technology can make it easier to develop the breadth of vocational college programmes in particular.

LO, however, also sees challenges associated with MOOCs:

The difference between those who have good basic skills versus those who do not, could be amplified. The need to concentrate on good basic skills early in training and education (especially within ICT) will become even more important as more lifelong learning takes place digitally.

How do we ensure that groups that have the greatest need for training and education, receive it? It is a challenge that those who already have the least education (and the greatest risk of dropping out of the workforce), participate the least in training and education. The new technology should help create better sharing of knowledge and better access for more people. A high level of competence at all levels is also important for employee-driven innovation.

Quality will be a challenge. The same applies to ways of accrediting, documenting and appraising skills acquired through the use of ICT.

Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO)

In 1997, NHO launched a proposal to establish “Åpent Universitet – Norsk kompetanse i grenseløs konkurranse” (Open University – Norwegian competence in borderless competition).4 In its definition of an open university NHO wrote that it differs from established institutions in that it:

  • does not have formal requirements for prior knowledge

  • adopts new technology based on distance learning

  • develops new forms of cooperation with the traditional institutions

  • builds and develops cutting-edge expertise in knowledge dissemination and use of new technology in education

  • works closely with social partners and develops specific training programmes for continuing and further education.

NHO believes that the points that were emphasised in the launch of the “Open University” still explain why the organisation, on behalf of its members, is interested in the MOOC phenomenon. The Commission’s mandate also has clear guidelines towards what is NHO’s social mission: contributing to framework conditions for Norwegian business and industry that, among other things, provide us with the expertise we need to assert ourselves globally.

In an article, NHO has pointed out some of the challenges that draw lines from the launch of the “Open University” to the MOOC Commission's work5

Teaching technology is already here. Transmission, speed or capacity problems no longer limit educational opportunities for organising learning in new ways. A robust infrastructure is about to fall into place and change the basis for how we think about the organisation of higher education. There is a basis for real optimism in the development of edtech and the opportunities that are opening up for much closer and more interesting interaction between working and learning life. We will see the development of a more extroverted higher education sector and more proactive knowledge-driven businesses.

The Commission should provide a comprehensive presentation of the current edtech situation to document and justify why MOOCs have propagated so quickly. This force will be the “engine” in a development that opens up new opportunities for Norwegian trade and industry, not to mention being a prerequisite for collaboration with the entire tertiary education sector.

Trade and industry is not concerned with where knowledge is produced, but rather that it is of high quality and relevant. Development is under way on a supply side that is global and with contributions from some of the most renowned education institutions and teaching forces. It is important for the sector to take this into account. Norway will never be self-sufficient in skills, so looking for the foremost expertise, wherever it may be, will become increasingly common. Technology and skilled teachers are the main drivers of this development.

Globalisation – the fact that excellent knowledge can be moved almost free of charge between countries and continents, provides a powerful incentive for the part of Norwegian trade and industry that relies on being at the forefront in terms of knowledge. This is the second major driver in the development of online learning.

There will be a lot of pressure on our own education institutions for further strengthening courses that are adapted for students other than traditional campus students. An inevitable consequence of this development is that the requirement to deliver quality teaching distributed via the Internet will increase. We can already see that this is about to happen.

The development sets a high(er) standard for content and quality through benchmarking with the best. It will sharpen our own requirements and boost quality. Through a wider market with good access, the market will act as proctor. It will become more difficult to offer the second best.

NHO believes this is a particularly important effect of the fact that both students and education institutions will increasingly want to include quality lectures in teaching. The impact on learning outcomes and quality will depend on how proactive education institutions are in exploiting this potential.

Smaller campuses that do not have the capacity to keep up with the best, can virtually “retrieve” the academic skills they need. They will be a more interesting partner for industry. Will we see a possible change in the profile of individual education institutions more in the direction of Corporate Universities? Skills brokers who are professionals in quality assuring and adapting teaching to the customer is another development opportunity.

NHO sees some very interesting opportunities that must be considered in the domestic debate on cooperation, division of labour and concentration (SAK) in the sector. Especially when it comes to the smaller regional-based education institutions, some very interesting possibilities open up with regard to offering local businesses bespoke training through a new “skills broker” role. Most of the companies that will be looking for such programmes, do not have the capacity and/or expertise to keep up with such a market, with such growth momentum.

Changing study programmes and a growing group of students grounded in enterprises will act as “Trojan horses” and change the framework of partnerships between local education institutions and businesses, large and small. Educational and occupational careers will no longer be organised in long sequences as now, but will have much more frequent transitions and coordination of learning and work. This will create a growing market for short, flexible courses that can be tailored to the individual enterprise.

One interesting aspect of the MOOC development is the move towards rethinking the organisation of programme studies. This will facilitate far greater diversity in study models than is the case today. NHO also sees a particularly large potential for correlations between what we refer to today as undergraduate education and continuing and further education. There is a vast potential here for development through systematic application of edtech.

This is not a trend limited to higher education. New groups of pupils will emerge from the 13-year primary and secondary education system with very different skills and expectations of higher education. One need not be a futures scientist to understand that today’s young people are socialised in a world of technology that will affect them in everything they do in all stages of life. They will enter education institutions with entirely different assumptions and expectations of their own learning process.

NHO believes there is little doubt that the current structure of higher education is insufficiently adapted to the generations who are to be trained for working life. Reconciling expectations and programmes for upcoming cohorts represents large and very interesting challenges.


In its input, Unio writes that among the very specific recommendations made by the MOOC Commission in its interim report (issued in December 2013), is the clear advice to employers to use MOOCs to develop the skills of their employees. The Commission believes that MOOCs have a potential to improve access to higher education. The Commission therefore believes that if this potential is utilised, it could have a substantial impact on continuing and further education and for providing the skills needed in working life. Unio agrees, but believes it will be important how this is accomplished.

Unio wants to emphasise that in much of Norwegian working life, for example among health professions and teachers, technical and professional development must be adapted to the population’s needs, and continuing and further education courses must have an overall framework that ensures quality in a Norwegian context. In both undergraduate education and in continuing and further education, the choice of learning form (campus, web-based or blended) must be based on a view of knowledge where learning is not only reproduction, but should also consist of knowledge construction.

The Government has launched its commitment to teachers by increasing the investment in continuing and further education for teachers by more than NOK 300 million in 2014. This will initially involve a large-scale upgrade of science teaching skills. While this commitment is welcomed, Unio and its affiliates, the Norwegian Association of Researchers (NAR) and Union of Education Norway, pointed out that it will be an impossible task to meet the commitments to teachers without also focusing on teacher education, i.e. enabling universities and teacher education institutions to enrol and provide further education to hundreds of mathematics and science teachers.

In Unio’s interpretation of the MOOC Commission’s interim report, the Commission views MOOCs as the answer to this challenge: further education of teachers using MOOCs. Establishing MOOCs requires no local or building-related costs, few teachers are required to educate many, and the studies can be done in the afternoon and evening, eliminating the expense for substitute teachers. This means that further education measures will be very affordable compared with regular campus studies, for better or worse. That, at least on paper, could imply that a large number of teachers can receive further training in a short period of time. The question is what increased skills will be gained from this?

Unio is fearful of the learning outcomes and quality if the reform is implemented in a unilateral manner. Further education using MOOCs must be a supplement to other forms of further education of teachers. The teaching profession is complex and relational, and it is crucial that continuing and further education of the profession reflects this. Unio therefore believes that MOOCs for teachers should consist of a combination of gatherings, lectures and web-based solutions. If not, there is a risk that the academic fellowship between learners and educators will deteriorate, that students will be left too much to themselves, not to mention that learning outcomes will be poor and dropout rates unnecessarily high.

When it comes to MOOCs and consequences for employees in higher education, Unio is concerned with employees’ rights to the materials they produce and the teaching they contribute to.

Confederation of Vocational Unions (YS)

According to YS, the increasing demands for skills, along with the higher rate of change in the workplace, entail that online education such as MOOCs means that students can get virtually unlimited access to educators of the highest quality at very low cost. The technology enables bespoke education with immense freedom of choice. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative have found that by combining web-based dissemination of classroom training, students learned in up to half the time compared to those who only attended class. This would be a benefit that everyone – individuals, enterprises and society – will be able to take great advantage of.

The accessibility afforded by web-based education will have a great impact on continuing and further education. Norway is at the forefront in the use of digital tools. We have well-developed Internet infrastructure, both in terms of quality and geography, and the density of PCs and tablets is high. Because access to digital tools is good for large parts of the population, there are consequently few technical and economic barriers to increased use of web-based training. YS nevertheless wants to point out that there are still large groups of the population where the use and benefits of digital tools is not a natural part of everyday life. There will therefore still be a great need to increase the digital skills of a not insignificant segment of the population, and it is emphasised that YS does not believe that this only applies to the group with little formal education. It is further pointed out that the lack of language skills can also be an obstacle to utilising the opportunities provided by MOOCs and other forms of web-based education. This means that even if YS is positive to the opportunities such forms of education provide, it also sees that there is a need to strengthen other areas of expertise to increase their availability and potential.

From YS’s standpoint, establishing a national MOOC portal for Norwegian MOOC-inspired web-based courses will be a practical move. This will simplify the task of finding relevant online courses for both employer and employee, while also being a practical organisational tool in terms of operation and maintenance. In time, such a portal will also include evaluations, so that both quality and relevance are included, although YS also believes it would be an advantage to document workplace-relevant skills acquired through MOOCs without exams and credits. YS notes that the international trend is that the actual courses are free, but that payments are occasionally involved in connection with course certificates and guidance. YS believes that it is important to keep the cost at a level that is not individually excluding. Covering the cost of such training, in the context of time savings in relation to length of study and not least in terms of reduced need for absence from work, may eventually be a relevant discussion issue for the social partners.

14.4 The Commission’s considerations

Stronger cooperation and increased relevance

If Norwegian businesses are to compete internationally and the quality of welfare services is to be further developed, the education system must have the capacity to respond to labour market needs and give employees flexible opportunities for qualification and skills development. The Commission believes that the education institutions’ range of studies are insufficiently adapted to the need for flexibility. The Commission also believes there is a potential for strengthening the coherence between what the education institutions offer and what working life demands. This is not just about continuing and further education, but also that undergraduate programmes must be relevant to the skills needed in the public and private sectors. Contact with the labour market is essential in order to provide good and relevant undergraduate programmes. Similarly, good and targeted continuing and further education programmes could depend on good basic skills.

The Commission believes that the higher education sector’s work on the relevance of programmes to working life needs to be reinforced. One of the Commission’s concerns is how to facilitate an increased focus on relevance at a strategic and political level. In the Commission’s view, stronger government incentives will be necessary in order to foster such a development. In the Commission’s opinion, cooperation between higher education and working life should therefore be used as an incentive in the funding of higher education.

Broader supply side – increased competition in the education market

The rise of MOOCs exposes Norwegian universities and university colleges to international competition in providing skills for working life. NHO points out that trade and industry are concerned with maintaining a high level of quality and relevance in education programmes, and are less concerned with who is providing them. Development is under way on a supply side that is global and includes contributions from the most renowned education institutions in the world.

Unless the Norwegian education institutions are able to cover the existing need for skills, other players will fill the gap. Norwegian institutions’ proximity to Norwegian working life represents an advantage in the face of international competition. In the Commission’s view, flexible education and MOOCs can be a tool for the institutions to strengthen their position as providers of the skills in demand in the labour market. This requires the institutions to have strategies for and an active approach to how they will respond to this opportunity.

Norwegian higher education institutions as facilitators for working life

Norway can never be self-sufficient as regards expertise. Although the Norwegian institutions are able to cover much of the existing need for expertise, it will also be relevant for the labour market to obtain knowledge from international providers. With MOOCs, specialised knowledge can be distributed between countries and continents. This represents a vast potential for the part of the Norwegian labour market that is dependent on being at the forefront in terms of knowledge.

However, it can be a challenge for the labour market to identify and assess the quality of the MOOCs that may be suitable. The Commission believes there is a need for a facilitator that knows both academia and the needs of the labour market, and that can help identify relevant MOOCs. Especially for small and medium-sized businesses, it may be important to have a facilitator that knows local and regional companies and is able to create a bespoke training programme based on MOOCs and other available expertise in a quality-assured skills plan.

The Commission therefore believes that universities and university colleges can and should assume a role as facilitator or skills broker. The institutions’ competitive edge is research-based knowledge and familiarity with the regional labour market. A facilitator will not only be important for employment in the region, but will also be useful to the educational institutions. The role will provide increased knowledge of the skills needed in the workplace, which may contribute to increased understanding of how the relevance of their own education programmes can be strengthened.

Use of MOOCs in skills development

As one of four countries, Norway is above the international average in terms of adult competencies and skills in reading, numeracy and problem solving using ICT. Norway is also the country where those with the lowest skills are most likely to participate in education and training.6 Furthermore, Norway is at the forefront in the use of digital tools. Internet infrastructure is well-developed in nearly the entire country, and the number of Norwegians with PCs, tablets and other technologies is high. In the Commission’s opinion, this provides a good starting point for adopting MOOCs as a tool for skills development in the workplace.

However, LO notes the risk that the gap between those who have good basic skills and those who do not, could widen if more lifelong learning takes place digitally. YS shares this concern. Good basic skills are therefore crucial for better sharing of knowledge and improved accessibility for more people. The Commission believes that the development of good basic skills for all is important to ensure that everyone can make use of the opportunities for skills development provided by MOOCs.

In the opinion of the Commission, formal expertise in the form of degree programmes will remain important as a basis for and a door-opener into working life. MOOCs can be offered as part of these degree programmes, cf. Chapter 9. The Commission sees a development where the labour market is becoming increasingly skills-intensive, and where the percentage of employees with higher education is rising. This, in turn, will result in the labour market demanding new types of skills to a greater degree, preferably in addition to formal education, specifically adapted to the individual industry or business. At the same time, there are still many in the workforce who have little or no formal qualifications. The Commission believes that MOOCs can be a good tool for continuing and further education at various levels, from craft certificate to global cutting-edge expertise.

The Commission believes that opportunities for lifelong learning must be strengthened. KS, YS and LO point out a need to be at work during the training. When employees have to travel to an education institution and have to be away from work for a long time, this is incompatible with the need of both businesses and public employers for people to be present at work. Consequently, this restricts the number of people who can participate in continuing and further education. In the Commission’s view, the use of MOOCs can contribute to joint human resource development for entire departments or groups of employees, regardless of time and place, and make it possible to bring in top expertise from an unlimited geographical area. MOOCs can thus help ensure that training programmes become available more quickly and are better adapted to different life and work situations.

In the Commission’s opinion, Norwegian education institutions should do more to develop comprehensive educational programmes for those who already have an education and employment. This means programmes that are better adapted for adults, in that they are tailored and take into account participants’ prior work experience and current skills needs. Today's experience-based master’s programme is a good example of such a model. The Commission believes that MOOCs can be an effective tool in the development of integrated and bespoke programmes.

In the Commission’s opinion, the higher education sector should take on a clearer role as a stakeholder in the continuing and further education area. The Commission also believes that the labour market should be proactive and explore the possibility of using MOOCs in developing the skills of employees.

National boost for continuing and further education in the public and private sectors using MOOCs

The Government’s goal is for Norway to be among Europe’s most innovative countries. In its political platform, the Government writes that:

Norway has a knowledge-based economy that is seeking success in a globalised world in which there is increasingly rapid movement of capital, knowledge and jobs across national borders. This makes knowledge a criterion for success if we are to hold our own in international competition. 7

The Government emphasises that the rapid pace of change in working life requires a replenishment of knowledge during one’s career. The Government will therefore gradually step up continuing and further education, and eventually introduce rights and duties relating to continuing and further education.

Several players aspire to contribute to digital continuing and further education. Within the public sector, KS, through its KommIT project, aims to contribute to continuing and further education in Norwegian municipalities.8 The Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (Difi) is carrying out a four-year investment in digital training in the central government.9 The Ministry of Education and Research’s 2014 budget allocates funding for two projects for the development of MOOCs for further education of mathematics teachers. One of the projects is managed by the Centre for ICT in Education and is being developed in collaboration with several institutions, while the second is a collaboration between the university colleges of Hordaland, Bergen and Lillehammer. In the Commission’s view, enhancing skills development in the workplace will require more coordinated use of resources.

In Chapter 11, the MOOC Commission recommends establishing infrastructure that facilitates the development and provision of MOOCs on a large scale. By leveraging this infrastructure, the Commission believes that scalable courses will be made available to both the public and private sectors. The use of MOOCs, often used in blended learning, has a great potential for time and cost-effective continuing and further education on a large scale in working life. Exploiting this potential requires even closer cooperation between the labour market and education institutions, increased digital skills and more coordinated use of resources. All higher education institutions have established a Council on Public and Private Sector Cooperation (RSA). Development of relevant MOOCs in cooperation with the social partners should be put on the agenda in these areas.

The Commission believes public funds should be allocated to a major proactive strategy for skills development using MOOCs. The Commission recommends that the initiative be established as a scheme based on both competition and collaboration. Distribution of these funds can be done in various ways and must be considered in more detail by public authorities. For example, the funds can be made available to labour market players that actively seek to develop their skills. These provisions shall be developed and implemented in collaboration with relevant education providers. At the same time, the Commission emphasises that training measures must be co-funded by business and the government.

It is important to ensure that the needs of the social partners determine the courses that are supported. This requires cooperation between the government and the social partners. It is the Commission’s opinion that substantial public co-funding is required to exploit the potential of MOOCs in a large-scale commitment to continuing and further education.

14.5 The Commission’s recommendations

  • The Commission recommends that cooperation between universities and university colleges and working life be used as an incentive in the funding system for higher education.

  • The Commission recommends that the educational institutions and social partners strengthen their cooperation relating to continuing and further education, and that MOOCs be used as an instrument in this work.

  • The Commission recommends granting public funds for a major public initiative relating to expertise development using MOOCs, which will require collaboration between the authorities and the social partners. The distribution of funds can be done in different ways, and must be considered in more detail by the public authorities.



The Ministry of Finance (2013) Meld. St. 12 (2012–2013) Report to the Storting (white paper) Long-term Perspectives on the Norwegian Economy 2013 – a summary..


NIFU (2013) Bedriftskultur for læring. En studie av videreutdanning og opplæring i norske små og mellomstore bedrifter (Corporate culture for learning. A study of continuing education and training in Norwegian small and medium-sized businesses). NIFU report 27/2013.


AFI (2013) YS Arbeidslivsbarometer 2013: Stabilitet og sårbarhet. (The Confederation of Vocational Unions (YS) Employment Barometer 2013: Stability and vulnerability) Available from: module_123/proxy.asp?I=6346&C=1&D=2 (Retrieved: 22 April 2014).


NHO (1997) Åpent universitet – norsk kompetanse i grenseløs konkurranse (Open University – Norwegian competence in borderless competition). Oslo: Næringslivets forlag A/S.


Halvorsen, Helge (2013) “Yes, we Khan”, in Fossland et al. (ed.) Ulike forståelser av kvalitet i norsk fleksibel høyere utdanning – teknologi og læring på og utenfor campus (Different notions of quality in Norwegian flexible higher education – technology and learning on and off campus). Norgesuniversitetet skriftserie 1/2013 (Norway Opening Universities' publications 1/2013).


OECD (2013) OECD Skills Outlook 2013. First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills.


Political platform for a government formed by the Conservative Party and the Progress Party. Available from: platform.pdf (Retrieved: 5 May 2014).


KS (2014) KommIT. Available from: (Retrieved: 5 May 2014).


Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation (2013) National Budget 2014 – Allocation letter to Agency for Public Management and eGovernment.

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