Diplo keeps up with latest developments in online learning and e-diplomacy, but fortunately, we don’t throw out traditional tools if they are still the best option, even if they are lacking the shiny new bells and whistles of the latest trend. Our online courses meet once a week in real (synchronous) time to discuss the week’s hot topics. Although we sometimes do this in a webinar, we usually use a simple text chatroom, with a hypertextable transcript (something like Google Docs comment function) for follow-up discussion.
New information and communication technology (ICT) not only changes the practice of diplomacy, it also can, and should, influence how we teach diplomacy, and in particular public diplomacy. In June, I attended the annual conference of the British International Studies Association (BISA) and was inspired by a panel on Teaching with Twitter. I use the insights shared there and some of my own reflections to make the case for including Twitter in teaching public diplomacy.
1,500 steps, 1.2 kilometers, and 142 calories burned were displayed on my pedometer after completing a 2-hour-long ‘walking course’ on Internet governance. It was a slow walk through the beautiful setting of Geneva’s Jardin Botaniques (Botanical Garden) and the attic of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) building. The students of the course were Swiss junior diplomats.
In this post, I want to take a step back and look at the motivation behind online learning – not from an individual perspective but from the perspective of institutions and society as a whole. The question is: what do we hope to achieve for our organisations and for society by offering online learning? For this post, I’ll be looking at some of the recent reports to get a sense of the current debate.
Online learning is now part of education at almost all levels and not a month goes by without the announcement of a new cooperation initiative in online learning or a new platform being developed. Although the hype generated by the first Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is over, there is still excitement buzzing around each new initiative. Precisely because the hype is over but the excitement is not gone, this is the time to draw on the lessons of various online education initiatives.
2012 was the year of the MOOC. MOOC, an acronym for massive open online courses, grabbed the media attention and became a widely discussed topic in education. Three of the most famous initiatives, Coursera, Udacity and edX enabled a large world-wide audience to take courses from elite universities for free. Especially the fact that high-level education suddenly became available for free for anyone who wanted to take part, was heralded as a major advantage and the start of a new era in education.