This week I finished facilitating ICNC’s eight-week course, Civil Resistance and the Dynamics of Nonviolent, which is offered in partnership with the United States Institute of Peace. This is the second iteration of this course – by far the most popular fall 2010 course offered through USIP’s academy – and we’ve made some significant improvements from last time.
The the three main advancements from last year’s course are: (1) We used Moodle, an online learning platform, so that the entire course – readings, videos, discussions, etc. – would be accessible online. (2) We recorded all the presentations on video. And (3) as a result of the two just mentioned, ICNC was able to involve both in-class participants, and participants from abroad.
I have helped ICNC use Moodle for several of our previous educational programs, and with each course we are learning more about Moodle’s various capabilities. My goal moving forward to is to move beyond using simple forum spaces for online discussion and start exploring the numerous other teaching tools installed in Moodle such as chat functions, surveys, lessons, quizzes, and wikis.
With the help of our videographer team, RyanisHungry, we successfully recorded every single presentation and webinar in the course. These recordings were uploaded and made available through the Moodle within 24 hours of the actual class. My goal moving forward to is make this videos publicly available on ICNC’s website, much like I did for the presentations that I helped record for ICNC’s 2010 Fletcher Summer Institute. The power of digital media is that we can take substantial parts of an educational program (lectures, presentations, etc.) and make them available to the entire world through our website. Simply watching recordings will not replace participatory classroom learning, but it can help increase the spread of ideas and knowledge, and contribute to a growing archive of educational materials that can be used, re-mixed, edited, and re-purposed for other programs.
The Moodle and the video recordings made it possible for international participants to watch each presentation and contribute to the online discussions and ask the presenters questions, even though they were unable to be physically present in the class. Moving forward I think we could do a much better job incorporating remote, international participants into the course and making their online learning experience a bit more engaging. Simultaneous web streaming of presentations and video chat were not an option for us (due to cost and technological barriers), and quite frankly, are not options for people around the world who do not have reliable, high speed internet access. So for the time being, video recordings, which people can download and watch at their own pace, is a method that will be most useful.
All in all, I was pleased with the course. It was definitely an improvement from the previous year. The timing of sessions were more structured and the sequence of different modules flowed more logically. The in-class sessions were a bit more experiential, involving more adult-learning pedagogy. And, the fact that we recorded each session means that we have a substantial amount of new nonviolent conflict content to be added to our growing library of educational media.