Monthly Archives: May 2013

MOOCs and educational development: Part 3

This is the third in a series of blog posts on MOOCs (massive open online courses). In my previous post I wrote about my first few weeks learning in a biostatistics MOOC offered by edX/HarvardX. In this post I will focus on Internet bandwidth, given that the MOOC I took — and MOOCs in general — rely heavily on instructional videos. After settling into the course, I reflected on how fortunate I was to be taking the course and have access to captivating instructional videos that I could watch using different options (described in my previous post). It was like being in the driver’s seat of a good car: you are in control and you enjoy the ride. But the quality of the ride depends on the road. So it is with online videos and bandwidth. Good bandwidth and stable Internet connections cannot be taken for granted in developing countries. INASP … Continue reading

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An enabling environment for evidence-informed policy making

Question – what exactly does an evidence-informed policy look like (and who should be able to recognise it as such)? The idea that policy should be informed by evidence and not based solely on it recognises that policy makers consider other factors beyond research when making decisions.  In this model, policy makers may consider and choose to ignore research evidence in response to factors such as political expediency, timing and resource constraints.  This makes it difficult to identify a policy that is actually informed by evidence when evidence is considered and rejected.   In fact it is probably easier to spot one that blatantly ignores a body of knowledge rather than one that considers and chooses to respond selectively to research evidence. Two recent stories in the UK made me think about the concept of an enabling environment for evidence-informed policy making.  The education secretary was recently shown to have used … Continue reading

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MOOCs and educational development: Part 2

This is the second in a series of blog posts on MOOCs (massive open online courses). Early in 2012, MIT announced its first MOOC. This was about electrical circuits. My academic background is in electrical engineering, so I was inspired to sign up and take a look. The first lecture was a lesson in humility. I realized I knew very little in spite of having a master’s degree in the discipline. I worked as a traditional engineer only for a few months after my studies and many years had passed since then, so I consoled myself after dropping out. It was MIT material, after all. Maybe there would be a more suitable MOOC for me later on. In October 2012, I came across a tweet about an edX course in biostatistics and epidemiology, offered by Harvard University. The full title of the course was “PH207x Health in Numbers: Quantitative Methods … Continue reading

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MOOCs and educational development: Part 1

This is the first in a series of blog posts on MOOCs (massive open online courses). In 2012, MOOCs gained so much prominence that they were written about in The Economist and The New York Times. Looking at what MOOCs potentially offer, it’s easy to see why they have taken the world of education by storm: MOOCs are free. (At least this is true for the vast majority of MOOCs now.) MOOCs are taught by real professors from top universities. The short videos used in MOOCs are said to be inspired by TED talks. They’re not anything like the videos of classroom lectures that have existed for quite some time. A 40-minute lecture can be boring even when you’re sitting in the classroom. Record that and you might get something that no-one would want to see! But the videos in many MOOCs are made only for those MOOCs. They’re not byproducts of classroom … Continue reading

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The state of art in ‘Monitoring and Evaluation’ and ‘Impact Evaluation’ practices

Reflections on the UK Evaluation Society Annual Conference (2013) The UK Evaluation Society (UKES) Annual Conference is a unique opportunity to share knowledge and experience with other Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) and Impact Evaluation (IE) professionals. Three main points for reflection inspired by the two-days of presentations and debates of this year’s edition that I would like to highlight here: The definition of Value For Money (VFM), that during a session facilitated by Save The Children was broken down into economic vs. operational VFM — the former as economic benefit coming from the implementation of the programme, the latter as the intrinsic value of the service (often having a public nature) provided by the activity (having better quality education is good per se, not dependent on the cost of provision); The IE community now is ready to leave behind the (sterile?) debate qualitative vs. quantitative methodologies for IE – a theory based mixed approach is considered to tacke more efficiently with the complexity … Continue reading

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