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Posted by on Feb 11, 2014

Proceedings of EMOOCs 2014: Challenges for conceptualising EU MOOC for vulnerable learner groups

EMOOC 2014

My colleague Inge de Waard, of MobiMOOC and other fame, drafted a paper that we worked on along with other fantastic colleagues Ronda Zelezny-Green, Laura Czerniewicz, Stephen Downes, Agnes Kukulska-Hulme and Julie Willems. Quite honored to be included in that mix and quite honored to be given second author there as well. The paper was drafted as part of Inge’s attending EMOOCs 2014, otherwise known as the European MOOC Stakeholder Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The paper is called Challenges for conceptualising EU MOOC for vulnerable learner groups and it discusses the background of MOOCs in the EU context as well as the need for addressing the capacity of vulnerable learning groups in accessing this learning. We contextualize vulnerable learning groups in the following passage:

In addition to these new strains in education, the old challenges with regard to excluded, vulnerable learner groups continue to exist; in fact, in some cases they are becoming more urgent. These challenges include access to basic social services, including education, as well as gender discrimination, lack of accommodation for people with disabilities, racism, xenophobia and employability. As such, many tensions accompany this educational transformation both within and beyond the European regions.

Portmess (2013) raised a crucial point when she stated that “Knowledge in itself without a larger narrative of pur- pose lacks moral meaning, and with the ‘first world’ imprimatur given to the courses and the hopes and expectations that student data will be a test bed for educational experiments, the creation of an unspoken postcolonial project uncomfortably shadows the hope for democratized access to education (p. 6).”

So it is a question that is on all our minds in some way or another, whether MOOCs present any real gain in developing mechanisms for giving access and developing resiliency in groups that could most benefit from it. The abstract for the paper:

This exploratory paper picks up elements from the European Commission’s educational vision and philosophy behind Opening up Education, the resulting initiative of the OpenupEd.eu MOOC platform, and takes this as a starting point to look at potential challenges for developing MOOCs that include vulnerable learner groups. In order to align the future conceptualization of MOOCs with the vision and philosophy of Europe, potential tensions of contemporary and future education are listed. The current dichotomy of xMOOC and cMOOC are used to mark some of the unexplored MOOC territory. Practical answers to contemporary, ICT-supported educational challenges are provided as options to fuel the debate. The challenges and options for future online education initiatives are based on insights and ideas of international scholars and researchers reflecting on potential barriers for learners and online education. This paper aims to stimulate discussion of the potential for new educational technologies to ensure social inclusion for virtual and physical vulnerable learner groups.

I have tried (and failed) to embed the proceedings from EMOOCs 2014, in case you are interested in seeing any of the other articles (which are fairly good). If you prefer, the proceedings can be found at the link above.

This was a basically an excuse to toy around with a new plugin for WordPress, the PDF.js Viewer Shortcode. It basically allows you to use Mozilla’s PDF.js viewer into pages and posts with a simple short code (PDF.js is a javascript library for displaying pdf pages within browsers). I was trying to host the file from Dropbox and use that link but that didn’t seem to render the embedded document. This was, in itself, a workaround from a WordPress uploading issue where my php.ini file is set to only accept 7MB uploads and I can’t seem to increase the limit in the FTP files.

That didn’t work (as you can see) so I switched to just the Google Drive embed. I have generally been steering away from Drive in the last year or so as I am trying to disentangle from Google a bit, or at least diversify, but it does generally make things easy.

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