Iversity began as a course management platform and professional collaboration site for academics. The Berlin-based startup has recently fractured into two sites un.iversity, which houses the institutional product and iversity, which is expanding the idea of a connected university by offering massive open online courses. The MOOC site is open to all types of instructors and their current offerings include courses created by both established traditional schools and for-profit companies. Iversity is one of the first European MOOC providers and has attracted quite a bit of funding; in their infancy they acquired a seven-figure grant through the European Union.
Iversity has put that money to use with targeted contests including one for content production, which awarded 25,000€ each to 10 winning courses and an ambassador contest which will award an iPad mini to the 10 users who can attract the most friends to the site. Iversity founder Hannes Klöpper has a plan for unique accreditation strategies in Europe and he is already taking steps towards an ambitious pilot program. The site itself is cheery and easy to manage, with each lesson’s source content, comments, questions, discussion, and supplementary materials contained on a single page for easy navigation.
The site retains its European flair with quirks ranging from charming (spelling errors) to immensely frustrating (course videos in a different language from course content). Iversity’s business model is still unclear. The institutional site and the MOOC site are currently both free and funded primarily through grants, but the site’s future may be uncertain once the excitement around open online learning diffuses.
Iversity is similar to MOOC providers from the U.S. like Udacity and EdX in that it tries to recruit star faculty and offers a modern, airy course space to hundreds of thousands of participants. It has a high incidence of interesting and unorthodox offerings, including vehicle dynamics, storytelling, and a "start up lab," perhaps due to its unusual recruitment strategies. The company has the unique experience of managing both a cutting edge open platform and a more traditional learning management system and it will be interesting to see how these functions influence one another.
The Bottom Line:
Iversity’s future is open.
Image: Logo via Iversity