3 minute read  written by  . Published on October 4, 2017

Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in the world, yet MOOCs produced for Spanish speakers have gotten off to a slow start. According to Class Central data, as of October 2017, MiriadaX — the consortium that offers MOOCs from universities across the Spanish-speaking world — boasts around 300 courses. (That’s compared to Coursera’s 2,800+ courses that have been launched so far, of which 236 are offered in Spanish.)

With its five new courses, Colombia’s Universidad del Norte (known as “Uninorte”) has made a significant contribution to the set of MOOCs made in Spanish. Uninorte’s new offering includes courses on criminal behavior, feminism, geology, and entrepreneurship. These new courses use many of the pedagogical techniques featured in Learning How To Learn, one of the most popular MOOCs of all time.

Barbara Oakley, the instructor behind Learning How To Learn and Mindshift, interviewed Edna Margarita Manotas Salcedo, Director of Online Learning at Uninorte, about Uninorte’s new MOOCs. The Uninorte team provided Class Central with the video of the interview, which is embedded below.

MOOCs in Uninorte

We also followed up with Edna via email and asked her a few more questions. Below is an edited transcript of her answers.

Why did Uninorte decide to create MOOCs?

It’s the first time that we’re producing a MOOC. For us, it’s like a pilot, and we are sponsoring it with our own budget. Our main interest is to join this global initiative and showcase subjects we specialize in. In addition, it’s necessary to have more ways of sharing the university’s programs, especially if we want to contribute to equal access in education.

What subjects will Uninorte focus on with its MOOCs? Why those subjects?

We thought about this for a long time, and we decided to begin with the subjects in which we have unique expertise. We didn’t want topics that were too general, but at the same time, we want to make sure the local or regional topics are relevant to enough people. It’s hard to find the balance.

At the beginning we had a very long list of interested faculty members, but it’s not possible to include them all. I think for MOOCs it’s necessary to think about variables like teachers’ availability, and how well a teach can speak in front of the video camera.

So based on these factors, we decided to launch MOCs on these subjects:

  1. Criminal behavior.
  2. Feminism and social networking.
  3. Field trips for geology.
  4. Methodologies for entrepreneurship and innovation 4.0: Practical guide for educators.
  5. How to learn a second language.

What audiences and regions around the world does Uninorte hope to reach?

The courses are in Spanish, so they could be taken by Spanish-speakers from around the world. We hope to upload the courses to Miriada X, which will provide global access.   

How will the process of making these MOOCs improve universities or courses on campus?

I think that the process of improving the lectures on video can help other teachers improve their face-to-face classes, especially with big classes. Longer term, we are thinking about a strategy for using the MOOCs for credit or in a context with face-to-face courses.

What are Uninorte’s future plans for MOOCs?

First, we want to test these MOOCs and look at data — we can see the effects of these MOOCs besides greater access. I think it’s necessary to go through the learning process with this. And after that maybe we will produce more MOOCs.