January 8, 2014, by Helen Whitehead

Sustainability, Society and You – learning across cultures and contexts

Sarah Speight writes: The University of Nottingham’s first MOOC got off to a flying start on January 6th with lots of interaction between learners around the world – New Zealand, America, Latvia, Australia, Pakistan, Bahrain, Egypt, all corners of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Iran, Venezuela, Colombia…. too many to mention.

We have developed the course out of an internal version, a NOOC (Nottingham Open Online Course) which we ran in spring and autumn of 2013. While the core objective is to explore sustainability, a close second is to engage learners in cross-cultural learning – making the best use of expertise, experience and perspective from around the world.  We could try this out in the NOOC because Nottingham has campuses in China and Malaysia as well as in the UK – not to mention our own distance and online learners.

Picking through the introductory postings in the NOOC, our learners commonly said things like:

It’s really nice being here to learn and interact with people within the Nottingham family.

Hello all the friends from three Nottingham campuses; am very interested in sustainability issues and look forward to learning from you all on the course!

I’m looking forward to learning what a course like this has to offer with contributions from staff and students in different geographic locations

New friendships were forged across the campuses and learners were able to contrast local solutions to big issues (e.g. waste disposal, water security) in a way that strengthened the ethos of the course:  not looking for wrong or right answers, developing critical approaches to problem solving, taking context and culture into account.

The NOOC had participants’ identification with the University of Nottingham to glue it together. The MOOC doesn’t have this so strongly, but it does have the shared commitment of its learners to the sustainability agenda and an openness to collaboration and creative thinking.

There is still time to join in:  https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/sustainability-society-and-you

Join us on Twitter and other social media with the hashtag #flsustain.

Posted in MOOCStudent experience