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Katharina Hone December 01, 2017

Thanks Hannah for this very timely blog post. I think now that the hype surrounding MOOCs is fading, it is a good time to think about them and what they can and cannot deliver. Regarding the openness of MOOCs, I really appreciate your critical reflection on the barriers that still exist regarding participation. There is one more point that some critics raise. They question if MOOCs are really free. This concerns paying to receive certificates and courses being an advertising opportunity for degrees with big US universities.
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Hannah December 01, 2017

Thanks for your comment, Katharina. The question of cost is another potential barrier to participation. If there is a fee for the certificate, it means that lower-income participants may benefit from the knowledge, but cannot get the piece of paper that proves they have done so and might even help with obtaining better paid work, for example. So in the end we have two tiers of participants. Actually, I think that MOOCs offer a great learning opportunity - but we should keep our eyes open and not assume that this opportunity is truly free and equally available for everyone, everywhere.
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Jovan Kurbalija December 02, 2017

Thank you Hannah, for a very insightful reflection on MOOC and online learning. A dominance of 'spin communication' triggers many paradoxes including this one that prima facie inclusivity of MOOC courses could lead towards de facto exclusive participation and limited social impact.
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Paul Owusu Donkor (not verified) December 03, 2017

You’re comments are spot on Kathrina. Thankfully, there are some universities that offer waivers on certificates for MOOCs for candidates from developing countries. The strategy greatly engenders participation and spurs one on to not only complete the course but also obtain a pass mark. Together with a number of colleagues of mine, we just succeeded in completing an 8-week MOOC while taking advantage of this offer. Now whereas this waiver exists, it takes some effort to know how to benefit from it. Making such waivers more accessible may be one constructive way of deepening the inclusivity and participation for developing countries.
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Zemaida Mozali (not verified) December 06, 2017

I was one of the panelists of this session in the Conference on The future of Diplomacy. During that session, Hannah made a clear explanation of how effective blended learning is and should be and how it can help learning of Diplomacy. As a participant of 2003 Diplo online Course, I also shared my experience of online learning, something that I keep sharing and underlying as a very effective "new way of learning". I have already commented on Hannah blog post that more than 70% of the population in Albania, have access to Internet, which is a high level of usage of IT. The question is: For what purpose is it used? Referring to a study paper, the results of which indicate that 28.8% of the students use Internet for academic learning for five or more hours weekly and 84.5% of them use social networks every day, we do not come out very optimistic. (https://www.researchgate.net/.../318115493_Internet_use... [accessed Nov 30 2017].) I find very interesting and useful the idea of MOOCs. In our countries, we lack the general culture of using it for the purpose of improving the knowledge and skills. It is very important that the concept of MOOCs should be intensively promoted, applied, in more and more cases, multiplied. It needs a platform or strategy for it. It would be very helpful for professionals, for scholars and students at different countries, places on the globe to exchange ideas on various fields of study; it would enable the growth of distant learning, both within nations and across borders, it would provide students and lecturers with a communication system that they can use to communicate with each other irrespective of distance and irrespective of being developed or developing country. It would be a strong tool to keep abreast, to keep updated with advanced world information, to network and use it for the purpose of learning and using it to increase the capacity and improve the performance in the working place-s.
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Zemaida Mozali (not verified) December 06, 2017

And, many thanks to Hannah for being very clear and professional during the session and after in reflections about MOOCs as a great learning opportunity.
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Hannah December 07, 2017

Thanks for your comments, Zemaida (and for sharing your experience during your presentation during the conference). Your comment here raises a question I have also been thinking about (and I'm working on another blog posting related to this): is Internet access on its own sufficient to lead to using the Internet for learning? This does not only mean formal learning through online courses: there are so many different informal ways to learn online, from simply reading articles or blog postings to joining discussions and debates. However, most people focus on the entertainment aspects. What is needed to move from potential to actual use of online learning (formal and informal) by more people, especially in developing countries?

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