Global online course on Africa reaches 1000 participants

Published: 2021-05-28

The LUSEM global online course on Africa’s economic development was launched in November last year. In less than six months after its launch, the course has now passed 1 000 participants – and the course is registering an above-average level of participation from the African continent.

Foto: Dylan Walters/Flickr

Partially fueled by the current pandemic, the supply of massive global online courses (MOOCs) has been growing stronger the past years. Already back in 2016, LUSEM launched its first global online course on Digital Business Models – a course that now has surpassed 34 000 participants.

The production of LUSEM’s second global online course started last summer. This time covering Africa’s economic development, with Economic History Professor Ellen Hillbom as course instructor.

Many participants from Nigeria and Ghana

Besides the overall ambition of attracting participants to the course, it was an explicit goal of the course to reach a broad and global group of possible participants. An obvious target group was to attract participants from the African continent, where access to higher education is more limited compared to the Western World. The course analytics now reveals this goal has been reached. Compared to a typical global online course, there is a clear over-representation of participants from Europe as well as Africa. The course has registered its highest number of participants from Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa.

Ellen Hillbom commenting:

”There’s a global inequality between Europe and North America on the one hand, and, on the other hand, poorer and developing countries in Africa with regards to access to higher education. I do believe that it’s important for economic development scholars to reach out to a wide audience of possible participants. It is particularly pleasing that so many participants, from both inside and outside Africa, are part-taking in the course. The course covers the most contemporary thinking concerning Africa’s economic history. I truly hope it will spur further interest for higher studies focusing on Africa.”

The potential in global online courses is significant. A large campus-based course may enrol around 100 participants per academic year, which means it would take ten years to reach 1 000 participants using the traditional means of distribution. The global online course reached 1 000 participants in less than six months.

”Explosiveness in online-mediated education”

Production lead for both the 2016 course on Digital Business Models and the 2020 course on Africa’s economic development, has been LUSEM Informatics Lecturer Markus Lahtinen. He comments:

”The global scale of this type of online course materializes quickly in the rapid rise of enrolled participants. And even though the competition is up for global online courses in the past years, we managed to reach 1 000 participants in less than six months. From my point of view, it’s a telling example of the explosiveness in online-mediated education,” says Markus Lahtinen

LUSEM’s newly appointed Dean, Mats Benner, considers global online courses to supplement the traditional forms of education as well as fitting with LUSEM’s continued work on digitization.

”This course is important for many reasons. Not least because of the inherent potential residing in the African continent, but also for LUSEM – where we take a clear and inclusive stance on future global development. Reaching 1 000 participants is important to me, as well as for all LUSEM co-workers. Furthermore, and given the current pandemic, the format is very timely,” says Mats Benner

The global online course on Africa’s economic development is a free of charge online course, offered on the Coursera platform. For a small fee, it is also possible to unlock the test module of the course. Upon successful completion, a verified digital diploma is also offered. The language of instruction is English, and since January the course is also available with Swedish subtitles.

Read more about LUSEM’s MOOCs

African development, from the past to the present on Coursera.org

Digital Business Models on Coursera.org