Short Online Courses: Supporting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Lizzy Garner-Foy, Instructional Designer (Educational Design and Engagement) at Information Services, explains how short online courses are contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals.
I have been working as an Instructional Designer in Educational Design and Engagement (EDE) for nearly three years now. As part of the Online Course Production Service (OCPS), I support academic teams across the University to create engaging digital learning experiences that inform, inspire and motivate.
What short courses are on offer?
The University has been delivering a large, diverse digital education portfolio for nearly two decades, and part of this portfolio is our catalogue of short online courses. We have created more than 80 courses since 2012, hosted on three partner platforms:
With every one of these courses, we demonstrate and celebrate our commitment to providing free, open access learning on a global scale.
How do they support the Sustainable Development Goals?
These courses also play an important role in supporting the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which provide ‘a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future’.
Our approach to developing and delivering digital education opportunities champions the fourth goal, to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’, as learners anywhere in the world, at any stage of life, can gain access to free, flexible, accessible materials on a broad range of subjects. We work closely with the Open Education Resource (OER) Service to source, create and publish all course materials under open licence, making a critical contribution to achieving the aims of the SDGs.
These are some examples of courses and content playlists to illustrate:
- Mental Health: A Global Priority
- SDG 3: Good health and wellbeing
- Know Thyself – The Value and Limits of Self-Knowledge: The Examined Life
- SDG 5: Gender equality
- Critical Thinking in Global Challenges
- SDG 10: Reduced inequalities
- SDG 13: Climate action
- SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals
The Sustainable Development Goals recognise that:
Ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.
My main projects last year were the COVID-19 Critical Care: Understanding and Application course on FutureLearn and Sustainable Global Food Systems course on edX.
With the average pass mark of over 80% on Sustainable Global Food Systems, and a whopping 50k enrolled on COVID-19 Critical Care from 200 countries, it is clear that our courses are making a real difference in global education to improve human and planetary health.
Sustainable Global Food Systems
This 5-week, self-paced course tackles pressing issues on climate change, food security and sustainability. We have received lots of positive feedback and reviews. One learner commented:
The course added value to my professional skills and improved my knowledge on food systems, as well as the concepts of healthy eating.
COVID-19 Critical Care: Understanding and Application
This course was designed, built and launched in a record 2-week timeframe (as opposed to the usual 9 months!). The aim was to provide frontline clinical staff with free, open access to the support and resources they needed in response to the pandemic. One learner offered the following comment about their experience of the course:
The resources that accompany this course are excellent. They provide the Healthcare Practitioner with the essentials of good practice in managing the critically ill patient. I have recommended this to many of my colleagues.
You can hear more about the positive impact of this course on healthcare workers, one year on from launch in April 2020.
I am currently working on our new Climate Solutions course, which is open for enrolment now and starts on 11 May. It is an introductory level, 5-week, self-paced course that offers practical tools for tackling the Climate Crisis and inspiring others to take action too!
Our short online courses cover key topics that learners can explore, develop their knowledge, and play a fundamental role in the United Nations’ 2030 agenda; to contribute towards addressing global challenges and work towards a better future for everyone, as outlined in the University’s Strategy 2030.