In this presentation, we explore a way of thinking about and responding to MOOCs from the point of view of a campus-based institution located in a developing country. Some of these ideas about how to assess the challenges and opportunities posed by MOOCs may have relevance for other higher education institutions, especially for those who have not been early adopters.
South African universities face context-specific pressures and are reflecting on how MOOCs and online education (amongst other strategies) can contribute to addressing the challenges they face. This perceived need to respond may be acute for the more established research universities who are active participants in global university networks, while at the same time confronting local social and economic imperatives.
In this situation, academics and decision makers find themselves having to develop strategies for engaging with MOOCs, perhaps under pressure from platform providers or from university leadership. How should institutions with competing pressures (local and international) and limited resources respond to engagement with MOOCs?
We mapped out the broad ecosystem which MOOCs are part of, in our preparation for strategic engagement. Contextualising MOOC-like courses within an institutional landscape of educational provision helps to identifying both what is currently available and what new opportunities can be explored. We developed a categorisation of MOOCs based on institutional purpose, participant interest and local context. Our categories take into account the paucity of African generated content in the international MOOC provision and the overall lack of developing country input as well as considering endemic needs such as specific types of learning problems linked with poor throughput and success.
We hope to provide a counterpoint to the noise of public and media discourses by placing MOOCs within a landscape of Higher Education course provision that locates particular types of courses in domains that are either formal, semi-formal or non-formal and by categorizing MOOC types according to purpose. Untangling purpose, audience and educational potential, puts us firmly in the “many MOOCs” camp, which as Hall (2014) notes ‘counterbalances the somewhat neocolonial approach of Coursera and the big xMOOC platforms”, showing that there is not just one global way for future learning.
In this way, we consider how universities which have not yet engaged with MOOCs can take advantage of the opportunities of emerging forms of online learning with appropriate local responses.
Hall, M. 2014. ‘MOOCs: What have we learned?’ Salford University Vice-Chancellor’s blog of 3 February 2014 http://blogs.salford.ac.uk/martin-hall/moocs-learned/accessed 18 February 2014.
|Affiliation||University of Cape Town South Africa|