Developing a MOOC for teaching employability skills to foreign students in Germany

A. Kapanen, S. Dressler, D. Edgar, B. Temple, T. Rachfall, D. Förster-Trallo

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    This paper reviews the development project of the Employability Skills MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). First, it presents a literature survey discussing the course conceptualisation, covering the course content and pedagogy, as well as the MOOC as a delivery medium. It then presents an account of the course production and promotion. Finally, it reviews the pre-course participant motivation and demographics surveys and reflects the findings against the course design.

    The MOOC was developed at the HTW Berlin and launched in August 2015 on the platform Its intention is to provide a scalable online resource to help German universities’ foreign candidates, students and graduates learn a range of skills and knowledge that may help them gain access to the German labour market. The course targets in particular candidates to industrial jobs in engineering, business administration and related areas.

    Recent surveys indicate that up to 80 percent of foreign students and graduates are willing to stay in Germany to work. On the demand side, employers signal growing demand for foreign graduates in order to offset an aging workforce and support business internationalisation.

    Nevertheless, albeit the promising framework conditions, employment statistics reveal that a majority of foreign graduates does not succeed in securing employment in Germany. Recent evidence suggests that deficits in culturally adapted employability skills may stifle foreign graduates’ labour market chances in Germany. Improving the teaching of employability skills like job application skills, generic career and workplace competencies and self-development skills at universities may therefore improve foreign graduates’ career chances in Germany.

    By reviewing the Employability Skills MOOC development project, this paper explores a potential method for enhancing foreign learners’
    employability skills. In addition, it discusses the use of MOOCs in higher education. The findings suggest that the MOOC is a powerful medium to reach large and widespread audiences with resources and expertise typically within reach of university educators. The MOOC medium placed restrictions on content design only in areas dependent on face-to-face collaboration, such as practicing job interviews or workplace communication. The typically heterogeneous profiles, motivations and expectations of MOOC learners were considered through a modular course design, clear definition and communication of learning objectives, and early learner engagement and community building.
    Finally, active course promotion over multiple channels was found to have important implications for the enrolment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEDULEARN16 Proceedings
    Number of pages11
    ISBN (Print)978-84-608-8860-4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

    Publication series

    ISSN (Print)2340-1117


    • graduate employability, moocs, online learning, international education, Germany


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