Educating the world with open educational resources

It has been a while since I last posted on my research blog. Since then I have moved across five states and two time zones to accept a new position as Digital Liberal Arts Specialist in the Digital Liberal Arts Collective (DLAC) at Grinnell College. Our mission, as is explained on our website, is to “help the Grinnell College community develop and infuse digital resources into its scholarship, teaching, and learning.” Should be a lot of fun and a good way for me to be on the forefront of some interesting and vital digital liberal arts projects.

I am still looking with interest at how MOOCs and open education initiatives are developing. Since Harvard and MIT released working papers on their edX open online courses a few years ago, which show that many students never complete the courses they sign up for, universities and colleges in the US have cooled somewhat towards MOOCs. This is unfortunate, as there is still a lot going on in open online courses that should grab our attention. The papers report, for example, that many registrants never complete an online course, but that they nevertheless access a substantial amount of learning material. In other words: students seem to be learning from the material, but in a non-traditional manner that is meaningful to them. And even if many of these students never complete a course, given the large scale of how these open online courses are deployed, even these small numbers can be very substantial.

A new survey of Coursera students reveals yet another interesting trend in open online courses. Particularly noteworthy was the find that 51% of Coursera students are in emerging markets (China, India, and Brazil) where English is not the primary language. Although open online courses may not yet have mass appeal in US higher education, their importance is rapidly increasing in the developing world: “In developed economies, 32% of Coursera’s users reported tangible career benefits from taking an online class. That figure rises to 36% in emerging economies. For people in emerging economies without bachelor’s degrees, it’s even higher: 39%.”

This is a trend that I have also noted on my YouTube channel. Although first launched in April 2015 and currently only having 657 subscribers (as of 10/1/2105 at 9 AM Central), India is in my top 5 viewing markets:


A look at the top 25 viewing markets reveals many other emerging markets: Egypt, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, Philippines, Morocco, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia:


According to the data provided by my YouTube analytics backend, viewers in these emerging markets watched a total of 23,139 minutes of instruction, accounting for 20.22% of all the video watched on my channel (114,408 minutes). And based on my channel comments, the most active subscribers – the ones who contact me with follow-up questions – are from emerging markets. We’ll have to see if, in the future, these numbers creep up even higher.

It seems to me, at least from my small corner of the internet that deals in German language instruction, that there is a substantial interest in education in these emerging markets, and a real thirst for knowledge and a desire to improve career opportunities. All of which appeals to the idealist in me who wants to educate the world and make it a better place through education. Which is why I really love to make these videos:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s