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Online course that empowers people to bring positive change in their communities set to open

18 February 2019

UCL Institute of Education academics are launching a new community-based research course to help local people make positive changes in their communities.

Teacher teaching child refugee. Credit: 'Jordan - Empowerment through employment for Syrian refugee women in Jordan' from UN Women Arab States (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) begins on 25 February and is part of the RELIEF Centre project which is working to improve support for urban communities hosting large numbers of refugees.

Taught by UCL Knowledge Lab academics Professor Diana Laurillard and Dr Eileen Kennedy, the course aims to support community leaders, teachers, youth leaders, non-governmental organisation (NGO) staff, and local professionals in carrying out citizen science and local research projects that are run by, with, and for their community.

The aim of the programme is to give local people the power to understand, change and improve their circumstances. The course is small-scale and local, and is targeted for people who are not necessarily trained researchers.

The course allows participants to construct their own research questions to find out community needs and how to meet them. They will develop research skills to carry out local research projects sensitively and ethically, using examples from Lebanon to support them as aspiring researchers.

Professor Laurillard said: “We are hoping that the collaborative nature of the course activities will enable this community to build its own knowledge of how to localise the outputs from community research the world over.”

Dr Kennedy said: “It is exciting to see how well the videos have turned out. We show community based researchers with very different kinds of experience sharing their stories, including Syrian refugees in Beqa’a, Lebanon, citizen scientists in East London, and academics from London and Beirut. I think they will inspire others and help participants develop the skills to do it themselves.”

Dr Fadi Alhalabi, Director of Multi Aid Programs and co-designer of the MOOC, said: “The most important way for capacity building and professional development for our teachers is to encourage them to be community researchers, then they will be creators and can make the box, not just think out of the box.” 

The free course is open to all and begins on 25 February and entails 4 hours’ work per week over 3 weeks. It is available in English on FutureLearn, and in Arabic on Edraak.

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