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Wednesday, November 27 • 15:05 - 15:35
Ready to succeed in life: Using MOOCs to make transitions in work

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Massive open online courses (MOOCs) and their variants are one way in which universities have been responding the growing demand from working adults to realise educational aspirations currently not possible through traditional tertiary qualifications. Castells suggests a key challenge for education is helping people to develop ‘self programme-ability’. While responding directly to such societal expectations may be difficult, in specific contexts MOOCs are being used by universities working outside their traditional structures to be more responsive to learning needs. The MOOC literature identifies upwardly-mobile professionals as valuing taking MOOCs for career progression. Our research seeks to explore cases where MOOCs are reported by learners to have in some way been valued for transition in work.

Drawing on our research from “Perspectives from African MOOC takers: understanding transitions in and out of learning and work”, we explore the experiences of people living in African countries who have taken MOOCs developed by the University of Cape Town (UCT). The data reveal diverse uses of MOOCs for making life changes - preparing for study, career advancement, changing fields. In this analysis, we selected working professionals who took courses to make changes in their careers, or ‘work-to-work’ transitions. Our definition of a work-to-work transition relates to career-related moves, such as entering a new workplace or changes within a career.

The paper discusses how African professionals are using MOOCs to respond to unpredictable career paths and unstable employment prospects. We argue the regional context increases the perceived value of MOOCs for interviewees actively seeking low cost, low risk, flexible opportunities for professional development. Exploring the expectations of MOOC takers in developing countries can help improve our understanding of how universities could support these educational aspirations through the provision of flexible online learning opportunities.

avatar for Janet Small

Janet Small

Course Development Manager, University of Cape Town
Janet is the manager of the learning design team at the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching at the University of Cape Town. Since 2014 she has been involved in running the UCT MOOCs project, which has now overseen the creation of 22 massive open online courses on Coursera... Read More →

Andrew Deacon

University of Cape Town
avatar for Sukaina Walji

Sukaina Walji

Online Education Project Manager, University of Cape Town
Online Education Project Manager, Centre for Innovation, University of Cape Town. Research interests include MOOCs, Online Learning, Unbundled Higher Education, Open Education

Wednesday November 27, 2019 15:05 - 15:35 CET
BL28 ground floor classroom - Presentations