What Online Education can contribute to Capacity Building and Social Development of Students
The UNESCO Chair in Education and Technology for Social Change at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), jointly with the Penn State University School of Education (PSU), have started a research project focused on how online education institutions are moving beyond providing access and toward building students’ capabilities and societies’ capacity.
The study aims to define what going “beyond access” means, at a time when access to higher education seems to be the only important issue, forgetting or undervaluing what happens to students after having got this access.
Through a survey based on Alan Tait and Jessica O’Rourke’s Social Justice Audit approach (2013), students from different online universities programs, initially at UOC and PSU, and later from universities settled in other continents, will be asked to define the main elements of their learning experiences, the capabilities they consider online education have provided them, and the constraints they have encountered and how they have eventually being overcome.
Albert Sangrà, Academic Director of the UNESCO Chair, and Adnan Qayyum, Associated Professor at PSU, are the main researchers of the project, in line with the research aim of the UNESCO Chair in identifying and fostering evidence of social impact and economic effects of online education.
The project has been presented in 2016 at three International conferences: EDEN (European Distance and E-Learning Network) Conference in Budapest, The Learner Conference in Vancouver, and EduTeach 2016 in Toronto. Initial findings from the survey are foreseen to be presented by the end of 2016.