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Richard Griffiths wins Coursera Outstanding Educator Award

Leiden Professor Richard Griffiths received the Outstanding Educator Award for Innovation during the annual Coursera Partner Conference on 22 March. The conference was hosted by Leiden University in the World Forum in The Hague and was attended by 500 participants from more than a hundred leading universities.  

Progress in online learning

Coursera, with no fewer than 142 partners the biggest platform for open online courses, presents this award in recognition of the influence that talented, committed lecturers have on learning throughout the world. Griffiths received the award for his significant contribution to the progress of online didactics and online learning experiences. The winner of the prize is determined by a jury of partner universities from the United States, Europe and Asia.   

First Leiden MOOC

In 2014 Griffiths, who initiated the highly successful International Studies programme, developed one of the first Leiden Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on political economy, Configuring The World, that attracted satisfied participants from all corners of the world. Since then he has worked closely with the international student recruitment department at the University so that when he is abroad, he can organise meetings to get to know his learners. 

Vice-rector Simone Buitendijk opende de bijeenkomst
Vice-Rector Simone Buitendijk opened the conference

Subtitled in nine languages

After the first run of his MOOC, alumni of the course took the initiative of subtitling the online lectures in nine languages, from Bahasa Indonesia to Spanish.  Griffiths then combined his MOOC with those of his colleague Prof. Hosli and researcher Lea Stadtler from Geneva to form a series of MOOCs, Challenges in Global Affairs. 


This series was one of the first on the Coursera platform, and it was also the first interdisciplinary MOOC. For the final assignment, Griffiths himself recorded short modules in which he gave participants practical advice and the academic skills necessary to write an essay. At the end of the course, he combines the best final assignments in e-books, two of which have already appeared. Over the past year he has applied the format of short modules for learning skills in the popular mini-MOOC: Be Persuasive: Write a Convincing Position Paper or Policy Advice. 


Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera, and one of the speakers at the Coursera Conference: ‘Griffiths is an inspirer of other people, through his ability to engage his learners and his tireless energy and enthusiasm for developing new formats that help learners get the best out of themselves.' 

Prominent position

Leiden University holds a prominent position in Europe in open online learning and intends to maintain this lead. The Centre for Innovation/Online Learning Lab at Leiden University coordinates these initiatives.

More than 500 teachers at conference in The Hague

The award was presented at the Coursera Partner Conference hosted by Leiden University on 21 and 22 March 2016 in The Hague. More than 500 teachers, administrators and online learning specialists came together to exchange visions and experiences on new strategies for universities relating to MOOCs, online master's, blended master's and their potential impact on on-campus teaching.

Leiden University speakers:

•    Simone Buitendijk (welcome)
•    Tanja de Bie
•    Jos Berens
•    Jasper Ginn
•    Chris Goto Jones
•    Gideon Shimshon
•    Frans van der Sluis
•    Einat Vordes
•    Tim van der Zee

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