Writing Your World MOOC launch
‘MOOCs are close to my heart,’ stated UCT’s Vice-Chancellor, Dr Max Price at the launch of Writing Your World, on 18 September 2017, as he commended the MOOC design team, and described MOOCs as a priority for VC strategic funding.
Writing Your World is the tenth UCT MOOC designed for learners across the globe. It is a free online gateway course preparing the students to meet the academic demands at university, particularly in relation to academic writing. It runs over four weeks on the Coursera platform and has been designed jointly by staff in the Language Development Group (LDG) and the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) in the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED).
‘This is a first for CHED and will be useful to people across a very broad spectrum,’ announced Assoc Prof Ermien van Pletzen.
For the Acting Dean of CHED, Assoc Prof Madiba, the launch celebrates innovation and hard work over the past two years. He sees the MOOC’s potential among high school learners and teachers as well, who may have different views of academic literacy. He mentioned, ‘The curriculum states that learners must be able to develop advanced language ability to function. The problem is with the way it is translated’. He sees the MOOC as helping students transition from high school to university.
Dr Price pointed out that marketing the MOOC to high schools could improve students’ performance and success rate in preparation for university. He stated, ‘It is one of the ways that the university is adjusting to the students, rather than simply expecting them to adjust.’ He commented that we need to think differently about learning modalities to reach out to the new generation of students.
Likewise, Dr Price envisions that offering a MOOC from the African continent could promote African scholarship and ‘reverse colonial education’. He also found the MOOC themes of ‘identity’ and ‘mobility’, through which writing skills are taught, particularly interesting for their global relevance.
Locally, the MOOC comes at a historic time when students are calling for free education. For Dr Price, ‘the reason we’ve been involved in it as well is in response to education that is free. These are resources that are part of promoting social transformation and social justice’.
Indeed, the purpose of the MOOC is to democratise access to higher education, in line with CHED’s social redress goals. For this purpose, the MOOC team will be working in tandem with the School Development Unit to further widen access, by reaching out to high school teachers and students.
It is noteworthy that the MOOC platform, Coursera also has its own App, which allows MOOCs to be accessed directly via one’s smart phone. MOOC videos can also be downloaded to be accessed offline. Further assistance can be provided by the CILT team, noted Ms Walji from CILT.
According to the latest statistics on Class Central, 3 of UCT’s MOOCs are presently in the top 50 in the world. It is the VC’s vision that Writing Your World will make an impression globally because of its topical themes, and gain as much traction on the international stage.