edX Prize for innovation in online teaching on sustainable urban development

March 1, 2023: Professor Dick van Gameren (Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment) and his team are the winners for their exemplary Global Housing Design – a free MOOC available on edX.org. The course, which focuses on the design of sustainable and inclusive housing, directly addresses the critical global need for urban development expertise, with close to a billion people worldwide currently living in inadequate housing.

The edX Prize is given annually to the faculty members and teachers who best showcase the potential that online learning has to transform our educational systems and inspire learners to chase their knowledge goals. It’s also a recognition of the innovative methods that instructors use to maintain learner engagement and help build connections to turn insights into real-world impact. Van Gameren: “Teaching online allows me to reach thousands of people across the world and empower them to make positive changes to the environment and the buildings they work and live in. As a team, we can use our passion and expertise to teach others about designing and building adequate housing for a more sustainable future. And learners can acquire knowledge and skills at a time and place that suit their busy lives – whilst collectively we contribute to a better world.” 

Global Housing Design
Van Gameren and his colleagues - Nelson Amorin Mota, Frederique van Andel, and Rohan Varma - built an immersive course that educates learners about the challenges and opportunities of creating affordable residential buildings from both a global and local perspective. The course encourages critical discussions about the design process and the social, economic, and environmental influences and motivations that influence design. In addition, the course offers a highly personalized component, where learners are tasked with reimagining the housing projects in their own communities to visualize a more sustainable tomorrow. Those development proposals are compiled into one searchable database for participants to explore new ideas and offer feedback, creating a global network of energized learners eager to enact change.   

Online education
“The exemplary work of Van Gameren and his colleagues showcases the potential of online education to reach communities of learners hungry for knowledge but unable to meet the demands of a traditional education,” said Rob Mudde, Vice Rector Magnificus at TU Delft. “The team is helping to arm a new generation with the insights and network needed to create a sustainable future centered around affordable housing for all.” 

About edX
TU Delft offers online MOOC courses on the edX platform. edX is a non-profit platform for online education, which universities such as MIT and Harvard have been using since 2012 to make education accessible to everyone with access to the internet, no matter where they are in the world. Anyone can follow the courses free of charge, regardless of prior education and without an entrance test. In 2013, TU Delft was the very first European university to join and offer courses on the platform.

TU Delft is very successful with its over 220 online courses. The first MOOC, Solar Energy by Arno Smets, was awarded the inaugural edX Prize in 2016. In 2020, the university registered its 3 millionth MOOC enrolment and again ranked No. 1 in the World University Rankings by MOOC Performance 2020. Also in 2020, Andy van den Dobbelsteen, Eric van den Ham and Tess Blom (all Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment) won the 2020 edX Prize with their online course “Zero-Energy Design: an approach to make your building sustainable”. Andrew Hermalyn, president of partnerships at 2U, parent company of edX said: "As a longstanding edX partner, this award underscores TU Delft’s continued commitment to excellence and innovation. From being one of the first edX partners to offer a MicroMasters ® program, to winning the edX prize for the third time, TU Delft continues to deliver high-quality, accessible opportunities for learners everywhere."