Wednesday, 30 July 2014

#MOOC for development report #ict4D

Finally the inspirational and informative report of Massive Open Online Courses for Development (MOOC4D) is published by the Penn University, and it can be downloaded here (link I got at first was not working, so added a new indirect link. Once I have retrieved the official link I will put that one in). The panel discussions are also available online here. The conference on MOOC4D was held in April 2014 and it focused on the challenges and potentials of MOOCs in developing countries. The conference existed of panel discussions on various MOOC topics. And thank you to John Traxler for sending me the link!

The 18 page report gives a very nice insight into potential bottlenecks and the status of MOOCs in developing regions. The report also puts MOOC into a broader perspective, linking it to:
  • Economics of MOOCs,
  • Open Educational Resources (OER), 
  • National and Global perspectives, 
  • Online Distance Learning (ODL), 
  • Expanding inclusion, and of course 
  • International development. 
The educational challenges in developing regions are multiple:
  • Teacher pro student rata 
  • (Digital) Infrastructure
  • Local content (and language)
  • Global health issues
  • k12 teacher development
The conference report offers a good deal of interesting reflections: the free model versus sustainability, using a blended learning model to combine what is best from online and face-to-face classroom teaching, ... and as the report mentions it is the start of the MOOC4D narrative as the new options are unfolding. 

Many questions that resounded during the panel discussions are mentioned in the report as well: "How MOOCs might or could fit in with Higher Education" (a global question and debate) and the ever reoccurring question: "how do we measure the impact of MOOCs". Where I feel the latter question is just a conundrum coming from an established order looking to calculate profit, where in fact profit resides in non-numeric and very qualitative profit. Education (in all its variety) works for everyone, whether you have self-taught learners, or kindergarden/primary/secondary/higherEd learners. Education is a primary human need, and should - in my view - not be pushed into boxes coming from production oriented analysis. And although I understand the need for benchmarks related to quality, getting education on the rails is the most important thing. Because let's face it, education in the Global North (and not related to MOOCs) still faces a lot of challenges. So any benchmarks based on a failed education in another part of the world, might not be the best structure to measure success. Produce education and rely on experienced teachers to provide content guidelines, they know. No matter where you live in the world, and experienced teacher makes a difference, knows her or his stuff and gets students inspired.