Arno Smets


Title Academic Knowledge Available World Wide: the example of the DelftX Solar Energy MOOC

A massive open online course (MOOC) is a form of education in which all interactions between students, the course material and lecturers take place online. In 2013 the Solar Energy MOOC of Delft University was offered on the edX platform for the first time. Since 2013 over 135.000 students have enrolled in three English editions and one Arabic edition of this DelftX MOOC lectured by associate professor Arno Smets. In this contribution the lecturer will discuss his various experiences with this type of online education like innovation of education, increase opportunities of the students and impact on the role of teacher. The critical mass in terms of number of students in a course allows to introduce new education tools. Examples are peer-to-peer interactions between students, like students helping students with exercises and exploratory discussions on various solar energy related subject. Demonstrations of innovations like using MOOCs to exchange data and experiences between the participants will be given, like sharing videos of their own solar energy system. In addition, the Solar Energy MOOC has been integrated in the on campus education at the Delft University of Technology in the so-called flipped classroom model. This blended form of education has positive effects on performance, effectiveness and learning experience of the students. Results on this blended type of education will be presented. The MOOC helped to improve the quality of education on solar energy at various universities in the world as well. The MOOC inspired teachers around the world to integrate the course material in their courses. A future vision on how online education will improve on campus education will be discussed. The MOOCs serve various types of students from professionals, that want to earn a certificate to improve their career opportunities, up to students, that follow the course to support or compliment their studies. A special group of students are the people that have used the knowledge to improve their own living standard. They have built their own photovoltaic systems and instead of a few hours of electricity they now have 24 hours of electricity a day. ‘…the nice thing of knowledge is that is the only thing that is growing when share…’. Different type of online education formats that will serve the specific needs of these various groups of students will be discussed.


Dr. Arno Smets is associate professor at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands in the Photovoltaic Material and Devices group of Prof. Miro Zeman at the faculty Electronic Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Sciences. Arno Smets has worked on a wide variety of topics related to the plasma processing of thin silicon films for photovoltaic applications, mainly focused on the second generation technology. Among many of his research topics and achievements are: plasma technology development, development of high deposition rates of hydrogenated amorphous and microcrystalline silicon, large area deposition, development of novel in-situ diagnostics to monitor plasma processes, plasma-surface interaction and thin film growth, study of dust generation in plasma environments, study of the mechanisms involved in thin silicon growth with respect to deposition rate, temperature and ion induced film- modifications, fundamental understanding of microstructures and related properties of thin silicon films, study of instable thin silicon properties related to the Staebler-Wronski effect or oxidation of thin silicon films, processing of thin film silicon based photovoltaic devices and development of novel concepts to further enhance the efficiencies of thin film silicon photovoltaic devices.