Potential at the Bottom of the Pyramid


An International Invitational Conference
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA

April 10-11, 2014

* Please note that the majority of this conference is invitation-only, but plenary sessions are open to the public. Please click the link at right to register for these sessions.


About the Conference

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) movement is greatly expanding capacity to meet the growing demand for educational and learning content worldwide. Many of the world's leading higher education institutions are attempting to enable access to high quality education for people around the world, including the disadvantaged and under-served. To date, however, the MOOC movement has paid insufficient attention to the reality of needs in the developing world.


The MOOCs4D International Invitational Conference will bring together scholars, policy makers, program officers, administrators, and technologists from the education and international development sectors. The main goal is to better understand the dynamics surrounding this situation, and deliberate on solutions and action plans that will enable MOOCs to serve the development needs of resource-poor communities of learners – those at the "bottom of the pyramid."


The 2-day conference at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia will include a series of thematic panels with invited speakers from academia, industry, practitioners and policy makers. Major plenary sessions will be open to the public upon registration. The discussion and workshops are designed to stimulate critical and in-depth discussions of key issues related to the future of MOOCs in developing countries. Principal themes and topics (tentative):

  1. MOOCs, ODL, OER and ICT for development (ICT4D): divergences vs. convergences in ICT4D; national and global perspectives; the latest trends.
  2. MOOCs and inclusion: responding to diverse learners; authorship and ownership of MOOCs for development; digital infrastructure constraints and opportunities.
  3. Challenges for international development: training and capacity building, global health, teacher training, social enterprise and digital information access.

Conference Co-Chairs

Dan Wagner

UNESCO Chair in Learning and Literacy
Professor of Education
Director – International Educational Development Program

Joseph Sun

Vice Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Partial List of Invited Speakers

  • V. Balaji (Commonwealth of Learning)
  • Papa Youga Dieng (Organization Internationale de la Francophonie)
  • Steven Duggan (Microsoft)
  • Abdulwaheed Khan (UNESCO)
  • Vijay Kumar (MIT)
  • Francisco Marmolejo (World Bank)
  • Clara Ng (Coursera)
  • Candice Reimers (Google)
  • Tarek Shawki (AUC, Cairo)
  • Gard Titlestad (International Council for Open and Distance Education)
  • Michael Trucano (World Bank)

and others TBA.


Funding and Support is being provided by the following conference co-sponsors: