I thoroughly enjoyed all the presentations that took place. I felt that it was a great opportunity for me to gain a deeper insight into the different learning events that my classmates experienced and how it related to their independent research project. Two particular presentations resonated with me. Team Three’s on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Team Two’s on Educational Video – Khan Academy. Both presentations and its accompanying discussions have challenged me to think about my own assumptions and biases that I carry surrounding the flexibility of open and free content. Prior to the program and this course, I saw MOOCs and Khan Academy as resources that could have the ability to eliminate barriers and open up opportunities without consciously considering the issues and challenges that it could also raise.

Team Three presented some startling statistics when examining participants using MOOCs on a global scale. According to their blog post, only 2.6% of participants come from developing countries and 80.4% of all participants are those that hold university degrees (Rohs & Ganz, 2015 as citied in Einarson, E., Goodes, J., Reid, S., McCarthy, L., & Samokishyn, M., 2020). Since there is extensive content spanning across many disciplines from reputable institutions, I made assumptions that people who are historically marginalized and disadvantaged would be more willing to take advantage of this opportunity where they could take free courses to brush up on their skills or learn something new. Based on the statistics, this is not the case. In reality, it is being utilized more by university educated individuals. The presentations provided more insight into equity issues, such as, lack of access to proper internet infrastructure and unequal language representation with courses in mainly English. When discussing educational videos focusing on Khan Academy, Team Three used literature to highlight the importance of using culturally inclusive pedagogy to support a better learning outcome for its learners (Ambata-Villanueva, S., Kuipers, S., Monsell, C., & Pottinger, S., 2020). Designing learning using a western-centric view creates barriers for learners who cannot fully relate to the content, causing disengagement. How can we work towards leveling the playing field to ensure that these opportunities can be truly be open and available to everyone?

With COVID-19 forcing many people switch over to classes online, the debate is becoming more prevalent than ever. As much as MOOCs and Khan Academy were created with the intention of democratizing education and making knowledge accessible to everyone, it is evident that a different set of challenges and difficulties have since materialized. What are some of the ways that these educational initiatives can re-evaluate and re-engineer themselves to address equity issues? How can we make these learning environments more inclusive to meet the needs of those who are marginalized and socioeconomically or geographically disadvantaged? As educational technologies evolve and grow, critical analysis and deconstructing my own bias and assumptions will continue to help me to gain a broader understanding of the issues at hand.

References

Ambata-Villanueva, S., Kuipers, S., Monsell, C., & Pottinger, S. (2020, May 15). Team 2: Critical Inquiry of Educational Video. Retrieved from https://malat-webspace.royalroads.ca/rru0118/team-2-critical-inquiry-of-educational-video/

Einarson, E., Goodes, J., Reid, S., McCarthy, L., & Samokishyn, M. (2020, May 15). MOOCS and Barriers to Access: A Critical Inquiry [Team Summary & Infographic] [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://malat-webspace.royalroads.ca/rru0115/moocs-and-barriers-to-access-a-critical-inquiry-team-summary/