In a bid to attract more online learners for its child rights protection and promotion (CRP) courses developed in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) now offers these as free courses via massive open online course (MOOC) model.
MOOC is an open access online learning model that can accommodate unlimited participants. Offered as MOOC, the CRP courses are not only free but are open to all with no admission requirements. All interested learners need to do is sign up at model.upou.edu.ph to create an account, explained Melinda dP Bandalaria, dean of Faculty of Information and Communication Studies at UPOU and project leader for the UPOU-UNICEF Project. Two courses will start on August 15.
“Child rights protection and promotion should be a concern for every citizen,” said Dr. Grace Javier-Alfonso, UPOU Chancellor. Because the process of creating a child-friendly community requires a collective effort with massive capability building efforts, Alfonso said UPOU and UNICEF decided to offer the courses as MOOCs to reach more learners and thus help raise child rights protection awareness in the country.
The CRP courses target “duty bearers” which include local government administrators and elected officials or anyone involved in planning, implementing and working on programs related to child protection, said Augusto Rodriguez, UNICEF Philippines chief for social policy. He added that such courses would also be relevant to parents and other professions dealing with children.
The CRP courses will be delivered via UPOU’s own MOOC framework, the massive online distance eLearning or (MODel) which was launched in 2013 as part of UPOU’s uLearn project. MODel introduces into the MOOC framework the same quality education UPOU maintains for all its degree courses, Alfonso said. However, online learners who complete the CRP program will only receive a non-formal education certificate and not a degree nor a diploma certificate.
Eight courses are included in the CRP course. These are convention on the rights of the child; developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating programs on child rights protection; and communicating, advocating, and mobilizing for child rights protection and promotion, including social media and children. All courses are activity-driven, requiring participation from learners. Each course runs for 4-6 weeks.
The courses will be delivered in multimedia formats: video, text, and podcast, and are available in two languages: English and Filipino.
Rodriguez said the CRP courses were launched in 2010 as regular non-formal online classes at UPOU. It attracted 130 individuals but only 97 eventually enrolled. Of these, 75 were UNICEF scholars. These number eventually dwindled to only 37. He attributed the decline to various learner factors which included the failure of learners, who are used to traditional classroom setup, to adjust to an online learning environment.