Advancing MOOCs for Development Initiative creates evidence-based guides

The advent of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) boded major shifts in alternative education across the globe; suddenly anyone with access to the internet could take a course from a world-leading university, usually free of cost. The implications for education and international development were wide and complex, opening a new channel of fresh questions for researchers. In 2015, the Technology and Social Change Group (TASCHA), in partnership with, USAID, IREX, and CourseTalk, launched the Advancing MOOCs for Development Initiative (AMDI) with an aim to better understand the relatively uncharted MOOC landscape. The first research report, focusing on Colombia, the Philippines, and South Africa, was published in April 2016, and contributed surprising and unprecedented results to the international MOOC field.

Now there are evidence-based guides for users, educators, industry leaders, and librarians to better understand the role MOOCs can play in personal and professional education. These guides offer concrete, attainable recommendations to expand education technology opportunities and further encourage workforce development. The guide Massive open online courses as a tool for workforce development in Colombia, the Philippines, and South Africa dives into the research’s implications for training through MOOCs to improve employability and job skills in the workforce. The other guides, Do you know what MOOCs are?, MOOCs: A guide for educators, and MOOCs: A guide for librarians, outline MOOCs uses and benefits through the scope of users, educators, and librarians.

By giving more clarity to the MOOC landscape, projects such as AMDI helps navigate new territory and find opportunity in an ever-changing digital world. The more informed users, educators, librarians, and industry leaders are, the more potential for increasing MOOC uptake and improving employability. These guides are one example of TASCHA research translated into concrete, actionable forms using research-driven decisions to create positive change in developing communities, countries, and beyond.