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Perspectives from African MOOC takers: understanding transitions in and out of learning and work

(UCT Principal Investigator: A/Prof. Jeff Jawitz)

Core research team: (left to right): Tasneem Jaffer, Sukaina Walji, Janet Small, Andrew Deacon, Jeff Jawitz (PI) and Soraya Lester (research assistant).

Core research team: (left to right): Tasneem Jaffer, Sukaina Walji, Janet Small, Andrew Deacon, Jeff Jawitz (PI) and Soraya Lester (research assistant).

The research project involves interviewing people completing the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) created by UCT who live in African countries to deepen understands the value people see in open online learning opportunities. Many people are increasingly seeking to move between work and learning, between different disciplines of knowledge, and between different levels of learning. Understanding and supporting such transition pathways ­ in and out of learning and work ­ is important for universities who are serving increasingly diverse cohorts of students. Specifically understanding how people living in African countries, and particularly South Africans, make use of open online learning opportunities for these transitions is important to inform the development of what types of online education provision universities could offer.

Through the UCT MOOCs Project, we have data related to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) from enrolments from across the world, which includes currently registered South African students and potential students. This research will focus on the Africans who have participated in MOOCs offered by UCT because comparatively little is known about this segment of students.

The core research question is ‘how do African MOOC takers, and specifically South African students, use open online courses to support transitioning in and out of learning and work?’

This research project aims to develop CHED staff’s understanding of the value and problems of accessing online support courses for people facing transitions in and out of learning and work and inform the development of more appropriate online offerings. CHED is being asked to give guidance to the University about the use of technology in support of the key goals of teaching and learning in the context of inequality. This research will enable us to better understand learners’ experiences and uses of online offerings. Our development of MOOCs, and ADP’s applications of online modes and platforms to expanding support services offer a unique opportunity to survey a large number of learners who have already engaged in some way with UCT’s online educational support offerings.

The research project runs from mid-2017 until end-2020, beginning with a pilot phase in 2017. In the pilot phase, the research team designed and tested both the quantitative online survey instrument and the qualitative research interview questions with a small sample of MOOC takers. Drawing on the experience of the pilot, we sent surveys to all UCT MOOC takers living in Africa to request an interview on their reasons for taking MOOCs and what they have valued from learning online and the challenges they have faced.

In 2018, we interviewed 58 participants, mainly working people, from African countries (a majority from South Africa) about MOOCs and making transitions. In our second phase in 2019, we interviewed a further 25 MOOC takers who were current students at UCT. The data gathered so far reveals very interesting information about how participants have seen MOOCs as providing value for the career advancement and study opportunities.  In 2020, the final phase of the research will focus on triangulating the finding with two other stakeholder groups - employers, and academics who run postgraduate programmes.

The outputs of the project include understanding the needs of people looking at universities to study further and offer new insights into the provision of appropriate online support for those making transitions in and out of learning and work.

Soraya Lester serves as a research assistant. She has an MPhil in Monitoring and Evaluation and is currently registered for a PhD in Psychology at UCT. 

 

Research outputs

Journal articles

 

Small, J., Deacon, A., Walji, S, Jaffer, T and Jawitz, J. (2019). Building capabilities: Using MOOCs to make transitions in work. Open Praxis, vol. 11 issue 4, October–December 2019, pp. 427–441. 2019 Open Education Global Conference Selected Papers DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5944/openpraxis.11.4.1027

Deacon, A., Walji, S., Jawitz, J., Small, J., Jaffer, T. (2019) Seizing opportunities: MOOC takers making time for change.  Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL): Vol 7 No SI (2019): Special issue: Teaching and Learning in Uncertain Times. Papers from the HECU9 Conference. http://cristal.epubs.ac.za/index.php/cristal/issue/view/13

 

Open Education Global Conference. 26-28 November 2019, Milan, Italy

Conference presentation

Small, J., Deacon, A., Walji, S., Jawitz, J., Jaffer, T, and Lester, S. (2019). Ready to succeed in life: Using MOOCs to make transitions in work (https://drive.google.com/a/uct.ac.za/file/d/1ay1AmCS7TWPDvtjKhI4_ZSG2upqIhYWI/view?usp=sharing)

Conference presentation promo video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzCCBB9DABI&feature=youtu.be

 

World Conference on Online Learning 2019. 3-7 November 2019, Dublin, Ireland

Conference presentation

Walji, S.,  Deacon, A., Small, J., Jawitz, J., Jaffer, T., Lester, S. (2019). Making it Count: How MOOC Takers in African Countries Use and Value Their Learning: Considering the role of certificates. (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wWVCF9RSd5c4Kf10szlFngqWnqwSnOfO/view)

 

CHED Research Seminar, 9 October 2019

Presentation: Perspectives from African MOOC takers: understanding transitions in and out of learning and work. Deacon, A and Small, J.

 

Online seminar for e/Merge Africa, 27 June 2019

Presentation: How learners in African countries are finding value in MOOCs Walji, S., Jaffer, T. and Jawitz, J.  (https://emergeafrica.net/27-june-how-learners-in-african-countries-are-finding-value-in-moocs/)

 

CILT events lunchtime seminar, 2 May 2019

Presentation: Seizing opportunities: MOOC takers making time for change, Andrew Deacon,(https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdwGReXd7I_joKTIiweHSRZwbRY-JePqQ5qmCMnA1hpGcmAbg/viewform)

 

Contemporary Higher Education Conference (HECU9): 15-16 November 2018, Cape Town

Presentation:

Deacon, A., Walji, S., Jawitz, J.,  Jaffer, T. and Small, J. (2018) Seizing opportunities: African MOOC-takers making time for change

 

Higher Education Learning & Teaching Association of Southern African (HELTASA) Conference20-23 November 2018, Port Elizabeth

Presentation:

Jawitz, J., Jaffer, T. and Deacon, A. (2018) MOOCs in and out of the curriculum.

 

13th International Conference on eLearning (ICEL) 5-6 July 2018, Cape Town

1. Wrapping of a Social Innovation MOOC

Deacon, A., Jaffer, T., Jawitz, J., Small, J. and Walji, S.  (2018), CILT, University of Cape Town, South Africa

  • Presentation
  • Paper Published in the Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on e-Learning ICEL, Cape Town Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, 5-6 July 2018. Edited by Professor Eunice Ivala

2. Understanding How Participants Use Open Online Courses for Transitions

  • Walji, S., Deacon, A., Jawitz, J., Small, J. and Jaffer, T.  (2018), CILT, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  1. Presentation
  2. Paper Published in the Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on e-Learning ICEL, Cape Town Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, 5-6 July 2018. Edited by Professor Eunice Ivala

 

Coursera Partners Conference, March 2018, Arizona

Poster:

Fourth Biennial Conference of the South African Society for Engineering Education, June 2017, Cape Town

 

Paper:

Presentation:

Higher Education Learning & Teaching Association of Southern African (HELTASA) conference, November 2017, Durban

Presentations:

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