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WED: To what extent do MOOCs contribute to a narrative of development as freedom? (Tim Seal)
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23 December 2014
[DRAFT abstract - comments please]
The uptake of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) within the HE sector has increased exponentially in the last 2 years with a belief that it will be of benefit to the provision of education in an ever expanding population (Trucano, 2013). With the majority of MOOCs coming from and being aimed at the global north (ICDE, 2013), how are MOOCs contextualised by providers for local context, what impact does this have on their applicability to the global context, and how does OER and openness support this contextualisation? One commonly heard line of rhetoric in respect to MOOCs is that they largely benefit those already engaged in their own education, rather than those excluded from other forms of education. Some studies (Christensen et al, 2013) finding over 80% of participants having post-secondary qualifications and almost 50% reporting post graduate qualifications. Understanding the mechanisms by which a MOOC is delivered can support the engagement of participants, or act as an additional barrier, particularly in development contexts, is essential to the ability of MOOC providers in ensuring equitable access and support for students’ learning.
Set within the context of Nobel economist Amartya Sen’s (1999) ideas of development in ‘expand[ing] people’s substantive freedoms through the removal of “unfreedoms”: poverty, limited economic opportunity, inadequate education and access to knowledge, deficient health care, and oppression’ (p. 1). This presentation seeks to identify the ways in which MOOCs and by association other forms of openness either add or remove barriers to engagement in education in relation to the removal of unfreedoms, providing an understanding of the openness of MOOCs and the extent to which MOOCs as tool contribute to a narrative of development as freedom.
Christensen, G, Steinmetz, A, Alcorn, B, Bennett, A, Woods, D, Emanuel, E J, (2013). ‘The MOOC Phenomenon: Who Takes Massive Open Online Courses and Why?’ [online] http://ssrn.com/abstract=2350964
ICDE. (2013) ‘World Bank EduTech: MOOCs and developing countries’, http://www.icde.org/en/icde_news/news_archive/2013/2013_part_2/World+Bank+EduTech:+MOOCs+and+developing+countries.b7C_wJLG2t.ips [online] last accessed 19/05/14
Sen, A. (1999) Development as Freedom, Oxford, OUP.
Trucano, T. (2013) ‘More about MOOCs and developing countries’, World Bank blog on ICT in Education. http://blogs.worldbank.org/edutech/moocs-developing-countries [online] last accessed 19/05/14