Here at BestCerts we like to keep tabs on all the places where learners can access free online courses from global universities. In addition to the big players like Coursera and edX, we also cover regional and national MOOC platforms. These platforms tend to be smaller, with fewer courses and more narrowly defined audiences, often delivering most or all of their courses in languages other than English.
One of the newest platforms we have become aware of is Campus-il, an online learning platform run by Digital Israel, an initiative of the Israeli Ministry of Social Equality. The goal of Campus-il, according to its website, is to “reduce social gaps, increase the equality of opportunities for different segments of the population, and to provide flexible training solutions for an ever-evolving labor market.” Like many of the other national MOOC platforms, Campus-il runs on Open edX, the open source software that powers edX.
Although Campus-il is brand new, the team that created the platform is very familiar with MOOC-style online learning. Through the Digital Israel initiative, this same team has created a number of courses that are offered on edX under the name IsraelX. One of the IsraelX courses, Viruses and How to Beat Them from Tel Aviv University, even made it into BestCerts’s ranking of the Best Online Courses of 2017.
Unlike the IsraelX courses on edX, which are offered in English, all of the courses on the new Campus-il platform are offered in Hebrew or Arabic. While the IsraelX courses are geared towards an international audience, Campus-il’s courses are directed at an Israeli audience that includes university students and professors, high school students preparing for university, job seekers, and government workers. The platform also includes courses designed to serve underprivileged communities, on topics such as digital literacy and financial literacy.
Not only individual learners stand to benefit from the Campus-il initiative. As Eran Raviv, the Director of Campus-il, explained at the recent Open edX Conference, the Israeli government can save money by using the Campus-il platform. According to Raviv, traditional face-to-face teacher training costs the State of Israel roughly $160 million per year. If half of that training were to be delivered online in MOOC format, the cost of teacher training would fall to $100 million per year. “By doing that 50 percent delivery, we’re going to save [over $60 million] a year that could be used for building future learner innovation spaces, paying teachers’ hours for discussions, private tutoring, etc.”
Campus-il is currently in a pilot phase, with an official launch planned for the end of 2018 or early 2019. However, the site is already live, and new courses are being added as they become available, with approximately 50 courses currently available. The plan is for Campus-il to have at least 120 courses by the official launch. Already, as of the time of this writing, Campus-il has around 40,000 registered users. An additional 35,000 users access Digital Israel’s courses through edX, bringing the total number of learners under this initiative to over 75,000.