Campus-IL, Israel’s National On-line Digital Learning Platform
CampusIL, the national digital learning venture, allows all Israeli society to enjoy an innovative and personalized learning experience with a vast array of quality content served by leading universities, vocational training institutes and other top content providers. As all courses are free, CampusIL bridges socioeconomic gaps within Israel and enables economic growth acceleration by offering a lifelong learning experience for students, educators, public servants and employment seekers.
The technological developments of our era allow everyone to study anywhere and at any time. With Campus-IL, all one needs in order to gain access to content and courses by leading academic institutions, to professional training courses and public sector certificate programs, is an internet connection. Inspired by the international MOOCs movement including Coursera, edX, Udemy, Udacity and FutureLearn, the Israeli government is leading a national initiative to use digital learning as a means to bridge socioeconomic gaps and accelerate Israel's economy.
A market research conducted by GAA (Israel's Government Advertising Agency) revealed that 60% of the population in Israel did not participate in any form of digital learning experience during their lifetime. On the other hand, more than 85% of the survey participants believe that lifelong learning is essential to improve one's socioeconomic status. Moreover, digital learning is grasped by 75% of the survey participants as easier to instil in their daily routine than traditional learning.
Campus-IL was founded by the Ministry of Social Equality and Israel's council of higher education with the aim of reducing social inequality, securing equal opportunity for a wide variety of social groups, and providing flexible training solutions for the evolving job market. The platform was launched on November 2018 and currently holds more than 1 million site visitors with more than 250,000 enrolled to at least one of the 200 courses offered by the platform.
The platform foundation was inspired by the French national MOOCs platform (FUN-MOOC) model that took place three years before the Israeli initiative was founded. The French platform hosts hundreds of French academia institute courses, offered also to the Moroccan government. Digital Israel (Israel’s National Digital Beuro) used the French model as an inspiration and extended it to other audience as described below:
1. Under-served communities – Digital literacy courses, civilian rights course and occupational English course are examples of content to advance of underprivileged groups (Ultra-orthodox, Arabs, senior citizens, etc.) in Israel by means of enhancing 21st century proficiency, augmenting language skills (English, Hebrew and Arabic), and developing professional occupational skills.
2. Students and higher education applicants in Israel – With the goal of changing teaching and learning methods within Israeli higher education cadres through digital learning, Campus-IL offers a variety of more than 70 academic courses, allowing undergraduate students to gain academic credit points for their bachelor degrees in a variety of disciplines.
3. Civil service employees - With the goal of Improving and increasing the efficiency of training processes and continuing education programs, Campus-IL designed various courses for civil service employees working in government ministries and local authorities in Israel. A few examples of courses include teachers training, procurement courses, high quality of service courses and human resources related courses.
4. Employment seekers - With occupational courses such as "programming in Python" and soft skills courses such as "how to effectively lead negotiation", Campus-IL aims to drive disruption among the Israeli employment ecosystem allowing fast track for jobs at high demand and entry level courses for those who wish to be part of the industry.
A series of strategic partnerships were formed in two major courses of action. The first, was a series of RFPs to encourage academic institutes and government units to create high quality Hebrew and Arabic content. The second course of action was creating an ecosystem development work plan, aimed at having all players in the digital learning arena of Israel become active players in the platform ecosystem. This includes conferences, community events and meetup, training and initiatives such as Campus-School which is on-the-ground community centres using Campus-IL as a platform for blended learning.
The platform is envisioned to address major national educational issues, such as Maths and English proficiencies, that the education system in Israel is struggling with, major skill gaps mapped by the ministry of labour and welfare, educational programs bridging the digital literacy gaps underserved communities suffer from and instilling lifelong learning within the general population with a unique focus on public servants.
The National Digital Beuro is working on a long term strategic plan to create a stable and growing organizational entity to transform the initiative from a small startup within Digital Israel to an independent entity, flexible and growing fast. A first step towards this vision was taken with an infrastructure tender published for the next 15 years.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
CampusIL is a very unique initiative internationally, nationally and within the Israeli government.
Internationally CampusIL is the only digital learning platform in the world that addresses a broad audience including academia, civil servants, underserved populations side by side with general public life long learners. Within the other similar national platforms around the world, CampusIL is the only platform which is both not audience-specific and initiated and operated by the government.
Nationally the platform is innovative for being the first website in Israel offering high quality content for credit and for free.
Within the government CampusIL is leading a major digital transformation. Currently the Israeli government expenditure on training is more than one billion NIS annually. An economic analysis held in 2017 determined that transforming to digital and blended learning in teachers training only will save 2.4 Billion NIS within 16 years.
What is the current status of your innovation?
CampusIL was launched 15 months ago and currently is in its implementation stage and at the beginning of its evaluation stage which will help CampusIL leadership to determine what should be the strategic focus of the platform in terms of audience and content.
Three important processes that take place during this time are:
1) "Startup to stable organization" process - Designing long term flexible and independent entities to lead the initiative in future years.
2) Product development road map design - including in-depth interviews with strategic partners and users research.
3) KPIs dashboard creation - The dashboard will help the initiative leadership to learn about the users behaviour and report important data to partners and stakeholders.
Collaborations & Partnerships
The major partners involved in the initiative are the Council of Higher Education, the Ministry of Education (K-12) and the Ministry of Labor and Welfare. Additional contributors are academic innovation centers such as Tel Aviv University Center of Innovative Learning and The Innovation and Learning Technologies Center of the Open University. Civil society partners include the Cyber Education Center, Yad Vashem, Davidson Institute of Science Education and The JDC (Joint Distribution Committee).
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Campus-IL currently has more than 250,000 learners, amongst more than 175,000 learners in the Israeli platform and more than 120,000 learners in the Israeli courses offered on edX.org. Indirect beneficiaries include HR and training departments managers in the organizations that use Campus-IL, such as government offices and universities. These organizations use the content on Campus-IL to standardize high quality content and use the platform data to improve training processes.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The results are measured in several aspects - number of course enrollments, learners engagement (how far did they get in the digital course), learners satisfaction (how much they feel they were benefited from the course content) and the digital course impact (how did participation in the course effected their education and career). These aspects are measured using Google Analytics, open edX insights (data repository of the learning measurement system) and digital Google form surveys.
The Psychometric exam prep course (Israeli "S.A.Ts"), which had four runs to date already has great results. More than 41,000 learners enrolled the course; Learners satisfaction average grade is 4.7 (of 5). In terms of impact - the average grade of the graduates is 26 pts. higher than the national average, though the average learner comes from a family which is below the average income.
Challenges and Failures
The initiative faces two main challenges:
1) Digital learning requires major self discipline which results in high percentage of course dropouts. Additionally, people with low digital literacy skills have issues with engaging the platform.
This challenge is responded to with large investments in product improvements (such as simplifying the registration and course discovery processes). Additionally, several methodologies of blended learning which have proven to decrease dropout rates are being embraced and supported by the initiative.
2) Big organisations such as government ministries and universities raise resistance to digital learning and approach it with suspicion and concern. With some organisations this phenomena has led to failure to form new partnerships and obtain high quality content. This challenge is faced by working with the innovation units of the organisations and by pushing the change collaboratively and using small steps in order to increase trust.
Conditions for Success
The first condition for success is having the government ministry and the strategic partners have a joint vision of the potential impact of the initiative. This is a "leap of faith" that will result in the willingness to invest major funds in the initiative that will turn into impact and results only in a few years after a long process of content development and implementation,.
A second condition is relying on a working model and a credible technology. In Campus-IL's case, this was the open edX technology and the experience and lessons learnt by edX and existing platforms as FUN-MOOC, the French platform.
A third condition would be the ability to scale fast and work agile. This will result in performing many micro-experiments and fast learning from failures and changing the product accordingly.
Last condition is conducting a series of quick wins, which give all initiative stakeholders motivation and push to continue the hard work. The Psychometric course is a good example of this.
Campus-IL representatives have been approached by several countries that were interested in replicating the initiative model. Examples include India, Colombia and Afghanistan. The initiative’s director was invited last March to Colombia for a week of best practices sharing with the local national platform. Additionally, Campus-IL model has been presented in 6 different international summits in 2018 and 2019.
Within Israel, the Campus-IL model has been an inspiration for other projects led by Digital Israel. The idea of consolidation of many local digital systems into one central system which serves many organizations was implemented last year in a central digital system for licensing small and medium businesses of 257 local municipalities nation-wide. Another project that adapts the innovative methodology is a central system of health data that serves dozens of hospitals and other health institutes in Israel.
A few lessons learnt during the last 4 years include the following:
1. Start with an MVP - During the first two years of the initiative the team led various pilots and experiments with the goal of exploring different audience types, various uses of the platform and product features. Thanks to these experiments a wide roadmap for product improvements has been designed and specific types of content and audience were chosen for further development.
2. Define your goals and engage with the right strategic partners at the very beginning - At a very early point of the initiative, even before the technology was available and ready to start the first pilot courses, it was understood that a key for a future successful platform would be high-quality content. Thanks to this understanding a goal of getting the best content from the best potential content providers was set. A strategic partnership with the council of higher education and with the ministry of education (K-12) were established. With these partnerships three RFPs for course developments were published and as a result 18 months later more than 35 high-quality courses were offered on the platform. This also led to other content partnerships establishment with the ministry of labor and the IDF.
3. Data Data Data - Connecting the website to Google analytics and using edX insights and surveys data helped in quickly spotting weaknesses and failures and in scaling up best practices. This has also led to a high standard of evidence-based conversations with the strategic partners, customers and vendors.
4. Using ROI analysis - Conversation around funding new projects within the initiative are always challenging. Using an economic ROI analysis increases trust is very helpful in such conversations. For example, an ROI analysis found that transforming to digital will lead to savings of 1.5M NIS for every academic institute and every 10 MOOCs (see document in the supporting files section).
Another by-product effect of the Campus-IL initiative is an active and growing community of digital learning in Israel. A closed Facebook group that was established 2 years ago with 40 participants became a popular and engages group of 800 people, including all the Israeli professionals that deal with digital learning – instructors, lecturers, instructional designers, educational technologies, vendors and suppliers. Many meetups and webinar take place frequently around pedagogy and digital learning.
In addition - a technical note regarding the videos in the next section: please use the "CC" option of the YouTube player in order to see the English subtitles while watching.