Webinar: MOOCs, community orientation and reclaiming the social justice agenda

At OER17 in London earlier this year Laura Czerniewicz and Sukaina Walji gave a presentation on MOOCs, social justice and openness, and I immediately thought ‘GO-GN folk need to hear this’. Invitation issued and accepted. Our #FirstWednesdayofEveryMonth webinar in October comes with stories of impact from the Global South.

MOOCs, community orientation and reclaiming the social justice agenda – insights from a South African university’s MOOC initiative

Drawing on the experiences of the 12 MOOC Project at the University of Cape Town (UCT) we present examples of educators developing courses with explicit open and community orientations. We focus on three of the MOOCs. The “Education for All: Disability, Diversity and Inclusion” course aims to provide capacity building for teachers, educational stakeholders and parents in low resource environments through bringing together communities to focus on inclusion of children with disabilities in schools. The “Becoming a changemaker: Introduction to Social Innovation” course works with a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) to present principles and practical actions for anyone in a civic community to become a social innovator. The “Writing Your World: Finding yourself in the academic space” MOOC assists students from diverse backgrounds to prepare for and enter university academic writing spaces.

All of these courses are offered on major global MOOC platforms – Coursera and Futurelearn – but also have local audiences and local impact as goals. The content and teaching examples are aimed at diverse audiences such as people working in schools, NGOs and students from low resource or non-traditional backgrounds. Some strategies used in the design of the courses included different ways of presenting content, with audio as well as video, transcripts and notes, and attempts were made to co-create the courses with intended audiences. We will share some stories of impact following the launch of the courses, discuss the importance of open licensing and how sharing and re-use in multiple contexts and interesting ways have been apparent with the educators receiving requests for materials in multiple formats and for different purposes. Community engagement has ranged from informal uses of one or two pieces of content to whole-course use in concentrated bursts (“binge MOOCing”) including offline in-person sessions. Re-use and reconfiguration of the MOOC materials and take-up in varied contexts by the community of users has been a meaningful outcome for the course academics, who are pursuing further variant course and open offerings.


 The Director of the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, Laura Czerniewicz  is an associate professor in the Centre for Higher Education Development,  committed to equity of access and success in higher education. She is the lead researcher on the research projects  ROER4D Impact Study OER in and as MOOCs and The Unbundled University: Researching emerging models in an unequal landscape.  Much of her work is online at https://uct.academia.edu/LauraCzerniewicz.  She blogs intermittently and can be followed on Twitter as @czernie .

Sukaina Walji (@sukainaw) works on a number of projects at the Centre for Innovation in Learning & Teaching (CILT) focussing on online learning design, MOOCs and research communications. She is the Project Manager for the CILT MOOC Implementation Team and the Communications Advisor for the Research in Open Educational Resources for Development in the Global South (ROER4D) programme. She is also a researcher on three CILT-based research projects: ROER4D Impact Study OER in and as MOOCsThe Unbundled University: Researching emerging models in an unequal landscape; and Perspectives from South African MOOC Takers: understanding transitions in and out of learning and work.


This webinar took place on Wednesday, October 4th at 14.30 UK time.

The recording is available on our YouTube channel under a CC BY license.


Featured image by JJ Thompson on Unsplash

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