Original Research

Can massive open online courses fill African evaluation capacity gaps?

Caitlin B. Mapitsa, Linda Khumalo, Hermine Engel, Dominique Wooldridge
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 7, No 1 | a372 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v7i1.372 | © 2019 Caitlin B. Mapitsa, Linda Khumalo, Hermine Engel, Dominique Wooldridge | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 January 2019 | Published: 26 June 2019

About the author(s)

Caitlin B. Mapitsa, Centre for Learning on Evaluation and Results, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Linda Khumalo, Centre for Learning on Evaluation and Results, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Hermine Engel, Centre for Learning on Evaluation and Results, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Dominique Wooldridge, Centre for Learning on Evaluation and Results, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Theory of Change for Development is a free online course developed at an African institution to strengthen evaluation capacity in the region. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) provide a platform for building skills at scale in the region. Scholars of evaluation have long pointed to a gap between supply and demand that frustrates both evaluation practitioners and commissioners. This article explores the possibilities and limitations of MOOCs to bridge this gap.

Objectives: This article seeks to explore the role open online training can play in evaluation capacity development. It considers the implications of one course’s experience of evaluation-sector-blended learning and instructional design in Africa for strengthening regional communities of practice, and for evaluation capacity development.

Method: This article draws on current theories on online learning, specific course data from the Theory of Change course as well as experiential learning from two processes of revision and delivery of the MOOC to explore open online learning as an approach to evaluation capacity development.

Results: This study has found that MOOCs can play important roles in evaluation capacity development. They can raise awareness of methods and tools that are not part of traditional monitoring and evaluation curriculum, their reach for evaluation practitioners is wide and they build much needed networks in the sector. However, their role in skills development has limits, particularly if they are delivered in isolation of other accessible contact learning options.

Conclusion: Massive Open Online Courses should be one part of an evaluation capacity development strategy. They support blended learning, expand access to certain core practical skills and link evaluation practitioners to other real outlets of learning and exchange.


Keywords

capacity development; evaluation; online learning; Africa; Massive Open Online Courses

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