Activity: Participating in or organising an event types › Contribution to conference
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Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have increasingly gained in popularity since their inception approximately 10 years ago (Cormier 2008). MOOCs are a valuable tool for professional development and widely used for this purpose worldwide (Christensen et al. 2013; Czerniewicz et al. 2014; Milligan & Littlejohn 2017; Salmon et al. 2015). Despite MOOCs being open to all, those that participate in them are largely well-educated and employed, with a majority from developed countries (Christensen et al. 2013; Escher et al. 2014; van de Oudeweetering & Agirdag 2018). The vast majority of MOOCs are offered in English (Brouns et al. 2015; Colas et al. 2016; Hollands & Tirthali 2014) and come from an American or western perspective (Altbach 2014). Although MOOCs are increasingly used for student cohorts from different cultures and language groups (Fitzgerald, Wu & Witten 2014), much of the discussion of and research into MOOCs is based on the U.S. context (Jansen et al. 2015). While research into learner engagement and interaction in MOOCs abounds (Coffrin et al. 2014; Crosslin et al. 2017; Joksimović et al. 2018), there is a dearth of research that specifically addresses how learner engagement and interaction takes place within culturally and linguistically diverse learner cohorts. Few studies have addressed the issue of how best to serve learners who are not fluent in the language of instruction, which is most often English. Those that have addressed this issue have found that learners may be reluctant to join online discussions in a language that they do not feel comfortable using (Garreta-Domingo, Hernández-Leo, Mor, and Sloep 2015). In such multilingual MOOCs, providing multilingual facilitation may activate participation in certain ways (Colas et al. 2016). This presentation reports on the lessons learnt from the pilot of a professional development MOOC for a culturally and linguistically diverse cohort across low and middle income countries. The MOOC focused on implementation research into infectious diseases in developing nations and was developed by the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases established by the World Health Organisation, in collaboration with the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. The pilot offering had a total of 123 participants from 29 countries across 6 continents. The course participants were a mix of managers, researchers and local health workers. The data for this study comprises online anonymous survey responses conducted on completion of each of the five modules of the MOOC and insights from a focus group conducted of participants in one of the regions participating in the pilot from the Americas region. Findings from the pilot MOOC revealed that participants felt that the MOOC had improved their understanding of the topic considerably and was useful as a professional learning tool. One of the most commonly cited areas for improvement focused on the discussion forums, assessment timing and format, and time allocation for modules. This research seeks to address the gap in the literature of how linguistically and culturally diverse learners engage in online MOOC forums. The findings from this study will be of value to those developing MOOCs for professional development purposes, particularly for cohorts of learners that are culturally or linguistically diverse and from low and middle income countries.