Tue 18th March 2014 - 14:00

Cultural Translation in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

This paper discusses how courses are made relevant to students in their respective cultural settings.

Practices that enable such contextualisation, or cultural translation, are investigated in five Coursera Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). 

I collected data from lecture videos, quizzes, assignments, course projects and discussion forums, using a cultural translation observation protocol I developed for this study. I found that cultural translation was enabled in the course design of two courses and in the forum discussions of all five courses. The course design that enabled cultural translation included activities, tasks, assignments and/or projects that are applicable to students’ own settings and gave students freedom to choose the setting of their projects and people with whom they worked.

As for forum discussions, students in the five courses created informal study groups based on geographical locations, languages and professional disciplines. Findings in this study can inform best practices in designing and learning courses addressed to a culturally diverse group. The study is particularly important to MOOC designers and students.

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