Making sense of MOOCS - UNESDOC Database - Unesco

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Making Sense of

MOOCs A Guide for Policy-Makers in Developing Countries

Mariana Patru and Venkataraman Balaji Editors

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Making Sense of

MOOCs A Guide for Policy-Makers in Developing Countries

Mariana Patru and Venkataraman Balaji Editors

Published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 7, place de Fontenoy, 75352 Paris 07 SP, France, and Commonwealth of Learning (COL), 4710 Kingsway, Suite 2500, Burnaby, BC V5H 4M2, Canada © UNESCO and Commonwealth of Learning, 2016 ISBN 978-92-3-100157-4

This publication is available in Open Access under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 IGO (CC-BY-SA 3.0 IGO) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/igo/). By using the content of this publication, the users accept to be bound by the terms of use of the UNESCO Open Access Repository (http://www.unesco.org/open-access/terms-use-ccbysa-en) and the Co-Publisher Open Access Repository (http://oasis.col.org). The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The ideas and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors; they are not necessarily those of UNESCO or COL and do not commit the Organizations. Editors: Mariana Patru and Venkataraman Balaji Cover design: Aurelia Mazoyer Cover photo: ©shutterstock/Katty2016 Designed and printed by UNESCO Printed in France

Foreword by the President and CEO, Commonwealth of Learning COL’s interest in massive open online courses (MOOCs) is rooted in its mission to increase access to quality education and training in an equitable and affordable manner. The MOOC has one distinction: it is the only scalable educational technology that was developed by and for educators. Nearly all other educational technologies, such as radio and TV, were adaptations of technology developments for other sectors. There was another reason why COL took an interest in MOOCs. We have always believed that MOOCs were not the comprehensive packages they were made out to be in mainstream media. Various components of MOOCs could be re-engineered to suit the needs of learning for sustainable development. We have, over the last three years, partnered with various institutions to offer ten MOOCs for learners in developing countries. Our strategy in designing and managing these MOOCs has taken into account the rapidly evolving changes driven by a fusion of online technologies, social networks and mobile telephony. We have been successful in offering MOOCs to a wide range of learners, from research professionals to university students as well as to farmers and extension workers in local languages. We recognise that most of the learners in developing countries have access to the Internet with relatively limited bandwidth, require offline access to learning materials and are not quite used to the online, peer-to-peer interactions that are taken for granted in the design and management of mainstream MOOCs. Much higher intensity of mentoring is required which is also not part of the standard design. COL and partners have developed a number of solutions that are partly technological and partly operational. COL has drawn upon its expertise and experience in open and distance learning to address the pedagogic requirements of dispersed and heterogeneous learners. The result is that we have a constituency of learners who not only are highly satisfied but also have performed well. COL published a policy brief on MOOCs in 2015, which partly reflected a number of insights we gained from this experience. There have been several important developments even since then. O