News overview

Tax lawyer Sjoerd Douma wins Coursera award for best lecturer

Professor Sjoerd Douma has been named the top lecturer on Coursera, the best-known platform for online courses. Students gave him an average score of 9.8 - almost unheard of for a lecturer in International Tax Law.

It came as a 'complete surprise' when Douma heard that he was to receive the Outstanding Educator Award from Coursera. Douma, Professor of International & EU Tax Law is the lead instructor for the online course on Rethinking International Tax Law, a course he has been teaching since 2015 with enormous enthusiasm. But he had never dreamed that, of all the lecturers and all the courses on the Coursera platform (2,000 in total), he would be named as the best. 

Marja Verstelle, head of the Centre for Innovation's Online Learning Lab who created the MOOC together with the Leiden Law faculty, collected the award on behalf of Douma at the Coursera Partners Conference in Boulder, Colorado.

"For Leiden MOOCs we support teachers to learn how to teach online, which is really different from teaching in front of a classroom", Verstelle explains. "Sjoerd captured this very quickly. As a teacher he is as clear and passionate online as he is live." 

"A good understanding of international tax law and its ethics can contribute to better informed discussions about tax evasion and tax planning," Verstelle adds. "All Leiden MOOCs aim to offer an excellent learning experience and at the same time contribute to a more sustainable world." 

One of the students of Douma's MOOC, Patrick Kimani, explains why he liked the course: "I was greatly impressed by the standard of delivery of this course. Within the first few minutes, I got entirely hooked by Professor Douma and Professor Simmontachi's thorough and 'user-friendly' presentations, not to mention Professor Kees Van Raad's provocative ideas that got me thoroughly engaged and eager to learn more. The videos were short but full of relevant content. The material was very relevant [and] the grading was very fair. This course shaped my career ambition for I am very much interested in pursuing international tax law practice"

The MOOC on Rethinking International Tax Law will be starting again on 3 April. Participation is free, and it is possible to request a certificate after the course, for a small fee. Leiden University offers some twenty other free MOOCs in addition to this one.