We are pleased to report that we have now more than 20,000 students registered in our free online courses, counting together the 2014 course of human rights (in English and Spanish) and the 2015 course on anticorruption (in English, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese). These students come from 133 different countries, including places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Ukraine.
In these two years and a half we have learned several lessons:
- It is extremely important to have the courses available in different languages, starting, of course, with English, the world’s current lingua franca. We have been disappointed with our translation into Chinese. It seems that in the People’s Republic of China they do not tolerate very well audiovisual educational material made abroad. We are exploring the possibility of branching out to French as well, because of Francophone Africa, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and Asian countries that have French as their second language.
- It is even more important to make oneself available to students, responding to their queries and participating in the debates they initiate.
- And good dissemination prior to the courses being launched is critical. We have been lucky to have the most important international organizations in the respective fields, communicating the upcoming MOOCs to their followers in Facebook or Twitter.
- Careful attention must be paid to editing the recorded videos of the classes, presenting them with schemes, photographs, background music, etc. Not only must the classes be brief. They also have to be visually attractive.
- We believe it is highly convenient to have a variety of professors who are experts in the field addressed by the course. Yet, many classes should be dictated by participants in the project’s team.
- A MOOC program may be run with a rather modest budget and a small staff.
This year we are preparing a course on gender equality and sexual diversity, which will be launched in late August. In 2017 we will offer a course on transitional justice, that is how countries have dealt and should deal with the crimes committed in the recent past by dictatorial governments or in the context of a civil war. In other words, how to reconstruct a broken society.
At any rate, we are proud that our students have rated our courses as excellent and we have certainly enjoyed running this program.