The official reading of the Beijing Declaration on MOOC Development by Tao Zhan (Director, UNESCO IITE)

Outcome document of the Global MOOC Conference 

“Learning revolution and higher education transformation”

11 December 2020 Beijing, People’s Republic of China


1.We, the participants of the Global MOOC Conference, including representatives from more than 2000 international and regional organizations, governments, universities and online education institutions around the world, met both virtually and onsite in Beijing, People’s Republic of China, from 9 to 11 December 2020. We exchanged views on the development and application of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), and showcased experiences in online education development. We express our sincere gratitude to Tsinghua University and UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education for their joint efforts in hosting the conference.

2.We appreciate the mobilization of UN organizations, international and regional organizations, governments, universities and online education institutions around the world to advocate for leveraging Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in shaping the future of higher education and achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, as well as in addressing educational challenges through international solidarity and multilateral cooperation — as clearly demonstrated by the leadership of UNESCO through the Global Education Coalition to protect the right to education during unprecedented education disruption and beyond.

3.We, based on the theme of “Learning Revolution and Higher Education Transformation,” exchanged our experiences in MOOC development, online education amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the comprehensive integration of ICT and higher education in various countries. Moreover, we conducted discussions, which have advanced the formation of a consensus on the development of MOOC and online education in higher education, have further promoted international exchanges and cooperation in “Internet Plus” and “Smart Plus” education, and have led to an important foundation for jointly promoting the progress towards SDG 4.


We, as the pioneers of MOOC, practitioners of online education, and promoters of global education reform, from around the world have experienced profound changes in higher education and are convinced regarding the role of MOOC and online education to:

4.Keep learning undisrupted. Amid the impact of global crises such as COVID-19 pandemic on higher education, MOOC and online education have provided teaching solutions for tens of thousands of universities, kept teaching in universities across various countries largely undisrupted, and benefited hundreds of millions of learners in universities.

5.Transform the educational model. MOOC and online education have profoundly changed the ways that instructors teach, students learn, and universities manage, thus, are shaping a new form of education that is accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

6.Turn a crisis into opportunities. During the recent crisis, online education has been one of the world’s greatest experiment that helps to trigger the transformation of higher education, and has successfully turned a crisis into opportunities as well as to further promote the quality of teaching. Thus, laying an important foundation for us to explore reforms in higher education.

7.Find social solidarity through education. The pandemic has widened the physical distance between teachers and learners, but the widespread adoption of MOOC and online education has drawn people and communities closer. Education conveys human affection and empathy, inspiring a more positive and hopeful world.


We further summarize our journey of exploring and transforming global higher education through practices of MOOC and online education into the following characteristics:

8.Equity. The unique advantages of MOOC and online education have always been leveraged to promote educational equity and the sharing of quality educational resources on a greater scale.

9.Quality. The development and exploration of quality MOOC and online education have always been pursued to improve university teaching and learning, and to provide learners with satisfactory learning experiences and fulfilling learning outcomes.

10.Innovation. The sustainable development of MOOC in technology, content, form, application and other aspects has continuously been pursued, as well as the continuous advancement in the types and mode of online education.

11.Service. MOOC and online education have consistently been learner-centered, providing various forms of learning experience to support different learners, strengthening the awareness and the role of teaching and technical support services, and is committed to continuously improving learning satisfaction.


We hereby RECOMMEND that UN organizations, international and regional organizations, governments, universities and online education institutions around the world, in accordance with their legislation, public policies and practices, consider joining hands and implementing the following actions to build, develop and promote MOOC and online education to better serve the society:

12.Adhere to the principles of sincere cooperation, shared responsibilities and mutual benefits; deepen international exchanges and cooperation; widen the access to MOOC platforms and quality resources; and support all relevant parties in playing a greater and more impactful role.

13.Accelerate the building up of infrastructure for communication; ensure the widespread use of ICT across regions, especially at universities in developing and underdeveloped areas; provide technical support for continuous innovation in MOOC and online education; and open up new possibilities for the future development of MOOC and online education.

14.Expand the sustainable supply of online educational resources, and bring more quality MOOC into university classrooms; promote the integration of online teaching and classroom learning to ensure that more students would benefit from quality learning resources; facilitate exchanges and cooperation between universities, and promote the openness and sharing of MOOC and online education resources.

15.Be respectful to the cognitive and psychosocial characteristics of young learners and “digital natives”; innovate and improve MOOC in terms of content, models and methods; stimulate learners’ interest and potential; further adopt the “learner-centered” educational approach and promote personalized learning.

16.Explore and leverage various measures such as law, ethics, supervision, and technology to regulate the opening, sharing, using and managing of MOOC; jointly promote the setting of international technical and curriculum standards for MOOC and online education; safeguard privacy and intellectual property rights; and address issues brought about by the development of MOOC and online education.


MOOC and online education are triggering a profound learning revolution, and drastically transforming the ideas, methods, forms and models of higher education.

We hereby COMMIT to:

17.Collaboratively explore the development and use of MOOC and online education, provide quality MOOC and online education solutions for countries and regions in need and promote the learning revolution and higher education transformation in order to contribute to achieving SDG 4 to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

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