You may recall that a few weeks ago I wrote about the University of Oslo’s first international Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), which also turned out to be Norway’s first international MOOC. The course was entitled, “What Works: Promising Practices in International Development” and was the brainchild of Dan Banik, Associate Professor and Research Director at our Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM). The six-week course was completed in the first week of April and I am delighted to hear that almost 7000 individuals from all inhabited continents of the world had registered for this MOOC from our University.
The technological development the world has witnessed in the past decade has encouraged us to think of new ways of delivering education-related services. Although first launched in 2008, MOOC courses received a major boost in 2012 when several top ranked universities in the world began offering courses through platforms such as Coursera, Udacity and edX. Our partner, Stanford University, has been a pioneer in the field and some of its courses have enrolled thousands of students.
MOOCs have been particularly interesting as students all over the world – irrespective of financial background – can freely gain access to perspectives offered by world class lecturers at any hour of the day or night. There is now ample evidence that shows that both American and European educational institutions are increasingly realizing the benefits of online courses where anyone with an internet connection can access high quality instruction through a MOOC.
The University of Oslo decided in March 2013 to actively encourage our faculty to consider developing online courses based on the MOOC model. Thus far, we have successfully completed the first course offered by Dan and his colleagues at SUM in collaboration with Stanford University, University of Malawi and China Agricultural University. The feedback that we have received so far has been overwhelmingly positive, and I was particularly pleased to note that our first MOOC was run parallel to a regular course. Indeed in the module SUM-4026M, students took the online version of the course but also had several interactive sessions with Dan. They subsequently went on to appear for a written exam which provided study credits. Such “blended classrooms” are exciting in that they offer regular students the opportunity not just to interact with their fellow classmates on campus, but with thousands of others spread all over the world. It was also interesting to see how actively our first MOOC used social media to find new ways of engaging thousands of students in online discussions. I was further impressed by the additional (bonus) material that the team was able to generate every week during the duration of the course, including short video lectures/interviews with leading policymakers and activists from various parts of the world.
Although the online course portion of What Works has concluded, Dan and his colleagues tell me that the What Works Community will live on, and they invite you to participate. Indeed, they strongly encourage you to visit www.whatworks-development.org and sign up for their mailing list, so you can stay involved with others who are passionate about international development. They plan to continue adding new features to the site, allowing participants to interact with each other, share experiences related to development, and find out about new promising practices.
I was honored to be a part of this MOOC and very much enjoyed interacting with the team. I am also pleased to hear that “What Works” is an ongoing project that all of us in international development can be a part of in the coming years. I wish to congratulate SUM and Dan Banik and his team on their path breaking MOOC and hope that many others from the University of Oslo will be inspired to develop similar courses in the near future.
Publisert 17. apr. 2015 14:24 - Sist endret 15. juni 2015 12:34