MOOCs Implementation: Requirements for South African Higher Education
From various readings of research papers from various journals and blog posts from participants in the MOOCs and the South African Higher Education Landscape Google community, I have deduced some requirements for MOOCs implementation in South Africa:
- Continuous Research: South African higher education institutions need to continuously engage in research projects about MOOCs whether focusing on pedagogy or platform technicalities. The more we understand MOOCs the better prepared we are to ensure successful integration into our curriculums and university business models.
- Internet Connectivity: South Africa is currently in search for educational solutions that will expand equal learning experiences across the nation. Currently MOOCs are bound to benefit individuals in the major metropolitan areas due to the availability of fast broadband access (3G/4G/LTE/ADSL/FTTH). If we are to achieve the “Massive” in MOOCs, government needs to intervene in the expansion of internet connectivity and encourage big mobile network corporates to not only focus on areas which bring profit, but focus on social development objectives. However, I would advise that institutions only consider the massive after they have enough data that indicates success during their trials with small groups of learners.
- Educational Philanthropists: We need a community of experts who are willing to develop and share freely their knowledge. Failure to have such a community will result in limited local content and an increase in the use of content from international universities. We need institutions that are also willing to offer their learning material openly.
- Finance/Funding: MOOC platforms are expensive to maintain if hosted locally. The solution could easily be to host on platforms such as Coursera/Edx, however for research and trial purposes it is important to setup your MOOC platform on a local server to which you are able to customize to your institutional needs or learning objectives. You are also able to get deeper meaningful statistics from when you have administrative rights to the platform.
- Quality Assurance: There is a high element of the need for educational value authentication in South Africa. There has been a number of fraud cases whereby fly-by-night institutions have swindled unsuspecting learners into paying for unaccredited courses. Unaccredited courses are not recognised by employers and thus any course without accreditation is rendered unworthy by prospective learners and employers. SAQA is the main body for course accreditation, however I would suggest that institutions intervene and offer institutionally accredited MOOCs. There are various MOOC models of implementing MOOCs, in which MOOCs can be accredited by the host institution.
- Online Learning Literacy: Online learning is a skill that is still being explored. Online learning experts need to develop training material to teach learners at a young age (in high school or primary school), so that they can make the most use of open educational resources that are available on the internet. MOOCs require for the most part self-directed learning, of which this type of learning involves a high level of discipline.
- Instructional Designing Skills: MOOCs require skilled innovative individuals to collaborate with the content philanthropists in shaping the curriculum/course so that it provides a conducive learning experience for the MOOC students. These individuals should also provide online learning facilitation training to the educational content producers so that they are effectively engaged during the duration of their MOOC.
- Policy: MOOC policies are needed to guide the day-to-day operations and strategic positioning/operations of the courses.
This list covers the factors I have identified, therefore it is not finite. If there are more requirements I have missed out please add them in the comment section. By sharing knowledge, we will be reducing the chances of failure for any institution that embarks on the MOOCs journey.
Sources & Further Reading
Memory Mphaphuli Assessing the Threats MOOCs Pose to South African Higher Education
Yaun L, & Powell. 2013. MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education available at http://publications.cetis.ac.uk/2013/667
eLearning Papers Special Edition: The Impact and Reach of MOOCs: A Developing Countries’ Perspective