Cultural Translation in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Bernard Nkuyubwatsi, What's The Next Message?, Apr 15, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This is generally a good paper though I disagree with some aspects. Basically, the idea is that 'cultural translation`- which is roughly "flexibility to allow students from diverse cultures to adjust the courses to their specific settings" - can be enabled in MOOCs through student-selected projects or student-formed groups. Where I disagree with the paper is in how this activity is framed - the author writes of "The inclusion of tasks, activities and assessments that are relevant to various cultural and professional settings" as though it's the professor that is doing this (or minimally, allowing this). But in fact these are activities created by supporting student autonomy and diversity in the course - the more the professor lets go of control, the more inclusive and relevant the course can be. And for that reason too I think that 'translation' is a particularly poor word to use in this context. (10 page PDF).

(p.s. papers in eLearning Papers are still branded 'Open Education Europa', with no mention of 'eLearning Papers' on the web page, but don't cite them as 'Open Education Europa' or they will complain and suggest that you are at fault for getting this wrong).

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