Cheaper mobile devices coupled with the boom in educational app development means that many learners in developing countries can now access quality educational media outside of the classroom. An increase in mobile access (especially in Nigerian and South African markets) has enabled educational technology businesses and non-profits to broaden education, taking learning to students’ daily commutes and homes.
These days everyone who spends time online is a producer of content. This content could be the blog posts you write, photographs you take, research articles you publish, videos you upload – the list goes! As the producer of the content, you get to decide how to license it. You can retain copyright (current standard and in most cases automatically assigned); you can decide to use a Creative Commons license and retain some rights; or you can release the content into the public domain, relinquishing all rights.
Learning environments that are fun and engaging rather than dry give learners stronger motivation to persist and take charge of their own educational outcomes. Because positive attitudes to learning foster positive teaching and learning environments, gamification in education has become an important concept and has seen educators find innovative ways to introduce elements of game design to the classroom.
In recent years, a global increase in access to the Internet, a demand for quality and affordable higher education and the willingness of some international higher education institutions (HEIs) to experiment with Web 2.0 tools and concepts, has resulted in the substantial growth of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
These courses allow for new ways of learning skills and gaining accreditation and, as such, offer much in the way of skills development.
In this section, the concept of MOOCs will be introduced and their application for digital media skills training explored with reference to some of the major resources available.
MOOCs: An Introduction
In recent years, a global increase in access to the Internet coupled with a demand for quality and affordable higher education and a willingness on the part of faculty at some international higher education institutions (HEIs) to experiment with Web 2.0 tools and concepts has resulted in the substantial growth of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The growth in these courses is driven primarily by issues of cost and access, as outlined by Cathy N. Davidson in her article ‘Are MOOCs Really the Future of the University?’. In parts of the developing world, in particular countries in Africa, an already-existing skills shortage is exacerbated by limited access to HEIs and the sometimes prohibitive cost of obtaining a degree. In contexts such as these, MOOCs have been proposed as a potential solution. However, the utopian vision put forward by proponents of the system – free, quality education delivered online – is countered by anxiety from some faculty members at HEIs, focused predominantly on what this would mean for the traditional university system.
What is a MOOC?
What then, differentiates MOOCs from the online learning already practiced by many HEIs in South Africa? MOOCs are ‘massive’ – some courses have enrolments of over 100,000 students – and are ‘open’ in the sense that anyone can register to attend the course (often without paying any fees). A recent webinar presented by Paul Stacey discussed ‘The Pedagogy of MOOCs’ and provided a history of the MOOC movement. Stacey explained that the cMOOCs were the first iteration of this courseware and focused on “knowledge creation and generation rather than knowledge duplication” (Stacey, 2013). These MOOCs were experiments in pedagogy as well as courses but although interesting in their own right failed to receive the enrolments and recognition that later MOOCs have.