Art of e-learning

Opportunities for Peacemakers to become PeaceMOOCers?

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I have just completed a Post Graduate Certificate course in Mediation through through Robert Gordon University in Scotland (and am awaiting results of final assessments…) The course, which was run through the Law School, was fascinating and I thoroughly enjoyed being exposed to a whole new world of professional activity. I chose this course because, although RGU is located in Aberdeen, which is 8.5 hours’ travel time from Leicester on the train, the course was offered by distance and students were only required to attend one week-long residential session.

It has occurred to me that many people around the world may not be so lucky. The Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution offerings from universities around the world are surprisingly inflexible: a mini research project that I carried out recently with the help of my niece, Jess, identified around 50 English-language universities that are offering courses in this subject area – mostly in Europe and North America. (The research is ongoing however, and we may well have only scratched the tip of the iceberg.) Of those 50 identified, less than a handful have distance learning components, and in addition, the fees charged by American and European universities make these courses completely inaccessible to the vast majority of potentially interested students in other countries.

One possible solution for would-be peacemakers lies in MOOCs – Massive, Online Open Courses – which are generally free of charge and seem to be offered in every conceivable discipline now. A further quick search raised the following MOOCs with keywords ‘peace’ and ‘conflict resolution’:

While these MOOCs provide wonderful opportunities for students who are interested in world history, politics and international relations, I was hoping to find some more practical courses focusing on things like conflict intervention or mediation. Perhaps I need to search further, or perhaps such MOOCs do not yet exist. I will be scratching a bit deeper over the coming weeks in my quest to add to the list of MOOCs to help other avid peacemakers become peaceMOOCers… and would appreciate any tips or pointers that anyone can provide.

If you are interested in this topic, I recommend the excellent blog post by Maha Hilal at the Peace and Collaborative Development Network (affiliated to the UN’s University of Peace): Emerging Trends in Online Education: A Resource Guide to Massive Open Online Courses.

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