The road to university can be tough. And so many people will never see a university from inside. But due to our technical revolution in the last years, transforming this country into “Mobile Kenya”, we now have to opportunity to enrol in online classes, provided by the best universities in the world. You ever wanted to know, how to build an online game? You want to learn, how to set up a sustainable social enterprise? Or you need an upgrade in your English skills? There you go. All you need is a computer or a Smartphone. And Wifi or Bundles.
Future Learn: UK universities let you enrol in different courses
“What do you want to learn” in a super-huge font-size is the first thing I see after entering futurelearn.com. Well, I just wanted to take a look, and now I should learn something new today? Sawa! Why not? So show me what you have in offer.
Futurelearn provides you with a lot of different courses from different areas, that might be in your interest. The courses give you a first dive into a topic. You can for example choose a course on building relationships in business provided by the University of Southampton, can take a survival guide for parents, if your child is in urgent need, provided by the University of Birmingham, or even learn the most important things about the history of Asia (it´s interesting, believe me), offered by the university of Taipeh in Taiwan. Because Futurelearn may have started in the UK, but is now partnering with different universities around the world. In average every course takes more or less a month to pass. You´ll spend like 3 to 4 hours per week. At the end, you even have the possibility to get a full certificate for about 6.000 KSH or 3.000 KSH if a Statement of Participation is enough for you. But to make it clear: Participation and passing the courses is completely free of charge.
Choosing a course raised the question: Is Nairobi an Ethical City?
I decided to enrol in a course called “Ethical Cities: Shaping the future of your City” offered by an Australian university called RMIT, that is dealing with global phenomena’s. I consider that as being a really interesting topic. Especially when I´m thinking of a city like Nairobi. How can enhance quality of lifestyle and opportunities for young people? How can we deal with the terrible traffic in this city, considering the fact, that this is growing very fast? And how can planning and shaping the cities face can become more transparent and democratic?
Futurelearn is an open platform. You get input to the topic, but you are invited to discuss with people around the world. With lecturers and participants via comment feeds that looks similar to Facebook. To that extend it is also a perfect platform, to link up with likeminded people from around the world.For example, in the introduction you can (but don´t necessarily need to) give input to the following questions:
- Where you live?
- The thing you love most about your city or town
- Something you’re concerned about in your city
- What you think an ethical city is. There’s no right or wrong answer.
So you can really discuss the issues, that you consider as challenges in your own city. Every week there are certain steps to fulfill. This steps contain articles, videos or discussion sections. Let me make one thing clear again: You really have an opportunity to get in contact with other people in the world on these topics. I think it has never been easier than that!
Ok, let´s move on. After getting to know the team in a short video statement (transcript is also possible, in case you don´t want to waste bundles) I´ll have to complete a survey, which topics are the five most driving issues in my city. Thinking of Nairobi, I ticked “Safe passages for bikes” (I love to cycle, but going to CBD with a bike is simply suicide), “Housing Affordability”, “Levels of recycling” (no explanation needed on that), “Access to local employment” and “Safe pedestrian mobility” (some might call them pedestrians, I call them a hawker’s paradise).
Colorful mix of articles, videos, surveys and quizzes.
In the next steps you learn something about Ethics. Especially when it comes to local government behavior. I can give a statement to questions like: “What happens in your city? Are you aware of any examples of unethical practices by leaders in your city, or others? How was the situation dealt with or resolved? Add your ideas in the comments.”
During the next steps, there are lot of examples, how different cities have dealt with certain challenges. There is also an abstract, how companies like AirBnB and especially UBER have brought changes to cities. At the end of week one (that I have made in 3 hours), it´s time for a short quiz, to wrap up the knowledge, that I have gained. The good thing is: There is no negative effect, if you don´t succeed in the quiz. So you can just learn, network and improve your skills.
My first week is complete, let´s see what the second has to offer. Looking forward to move on. And I think you got the concept.
If you are an institution get in touch a become a partner
Of course there is one disadvantage: As the courses are made in the western world, most of the topics are also getting along with the conditions we can find there. As being a participant, you have a wonderful opportunity to discuss Kenyan specific topics with people from other parts of the world. You can learn and they can learn from you as well. And you can even approach your university to offer a course on the platform as well. The world is interconnected. Education doesn´t stop at the exit of your university. Let´s make use of these new chances.
If you want an app, “go” to an American university
You might feel, that opening a browser (although Futurelearn has a nice mobile layout) can be a bit too complicated sometimes and you´d rather want to go for an app, try EDX.
EDX is the American pendant to Futurelearn. So you have a chance to join online courses from the best universities in the world, like Harvard, Stanford or Yale. More than 7 Million people are enrolled in the more than 1200 courses, that have been offered so far. In fact, EDX was initiated by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University.
The level of education is very high, but the platform will tell you, if you need any further knowledge about the specific topics in advance. Like Futurelearn, you can learn everything from special things regarding arts, physics, computer science or data evaluation in NGO´s field work.
The way how these courses are working is similar to Futurelearn, this is why I will not go into detail with that. You can also acquire a certificate at the end of the course.
I found Futurelearn to be a bit more modern and user-friendly, whereas EDX has a clear advantage by offering an app. But there is no need to decide between the two. I will go on taking courses on both platforms.