Learn. Inspire. Lead – This is the motto behind this new online capacity building platform of the University of Mauritius. This innovative technology, called XenEd (previously branded as Xenops) is an advanced customization of Open edX, which is a well-known platform for the delivery of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
The University is championing the concept of micro-credentials based on blockchain technology where participants can enroll in courses for free or for a small fee, and will have the possibility to earn micro-credits that can be accumulated and transferred into recognized University credits.
The XenEd platform provides functionalities to better monitor and track learner progress and provides a seamless and flexible online learning experience to learners from all walks of life. The University has already identified a number of its online modules and open educational resources that would be offered through this platform. The platform will launch, with an online course on the Internet of Things will be provided for free to Mauritian and international participants from September 2020. The course was developed as an open educational resource (OER) through the support of the Commonwealth of Learning.
The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning & Resources), Dr Santally highlighted: “The University of Mauritius has played a pioneering role in the development of education technology as an academic field and led by example in terms of capacity building of education practitioners and innovation in teaching and learning through technology. This initiative is another example of our broader vision to lead the digital transformation of education and opening up access to high-quality training, to build the workforce of the future in the country”.
Mr Balaji Baradhazhvar, CEO of Crystal Delta Pty Ltd, further added: “We are proud to be associated with the University of Mauritius. It is a strengthening of our policy to promote Universities in small island states and contributing to the economic and educational development of those regions. We are already working with the University of South Pacific, and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). We are particularly motivated with this partnership with the team at the UoM, as it also entails research and innovation activities in the areas of blockchain and micro-credentials.”
The courses that will be dispensed through this platform will relate to ICT, Digital Literacy, Youth Work Development, Leadership Development, Human Rights and several other areas in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. The University, through its consultancy unit, will also be engaging with the different stakeholders, especially the private sector, to mount customized online training for the upskilling of their staff. At the moment, most of the training is held through face-to-face training on campus. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning & Resources) mentioned that in the long term, the vision is to broaden this initiative into a massive capacity building platform that promotes continuous professional development at a National scale to accelerate the growth of Mauritius into a knowledge society.
Questions to Dr Santally Mohammad Issack
1. Will the courses on this platform be completely free?
Some of the courses will be completely free, especially those which are of national interest, and in line with the SDGs. For example, a course on Health & Safety or Fundamental Human Rights will be free as these are of high public interest. For other programs, which has a more professional incline, there would be a reasonable fee charged, as the participants also have the option to go for an assessment that would lead to recognized University micro-credentials.
2. Can anyone follow the courses?
Yes. But some courses might require some pre-requisites if the participant is interested in obtaining University credentials. We have the concept of “auditeur libre” where anyone can access the course contents for a fee, but do not take any assessment. If a course is pitched at a graduate level, a participant needs to have at least a degree to be able to earn University credits.
3. What are the benefits of enrolling on these courses?
The first benefit is for your own personal or professional development. Then UoM is a trusted institution, and its credentials will add value to any CV. The fundamental difference between following a traditional MOOC and a course on this platform is the validity of the credential owned.
Many platforms just provide for a simple attestation that are mostly non-verifiable in terms of its validity, that someone has followed a course. This will be an option in our platform, but we will also provide for a reliable form of assessment to validate the skills and competencies of the learner.
Third, the flexible pathway even allows the learner to earn a qualification if he or she engages in a sustainable manner within a discipline. But this is for the long term.
4. How do you ensure quality?
A module offered on the platform has to be approved by the relevant instances of the University. There are different types of modules such as short courses non-award or award courses carrying University credits. All our courses are developed by academics or professionals with expertise in their fields. For each course offered online, there is a tutor or facilitator and appropriate technical support.
The University of Mauritius (UoM) (French: Université de Maurice) is the national University of Mauritius. It is the oldest and largest University in the country in terms of student enrollment and curriculum offered. The public University’s main campus is located at Réduit, Moka. Operating since 1965, the University has been a pillar of knowledge and skills development for Mauritius. Its updated vision for 21st century effectively redefines its socio-economic role to provide more significant learning opportunities for its citizens and enhance its reputation in an increasingly global learning and employment landscape.
More information at https://www.uom.ac.mu/ and https://www.ilearn.uom.ac.mu/
Crystal Delta Pty Ltd is a software engineering products and services company based in Melbourne, Australia and Chennai, India. Since its founding in 2014, the company has developed a strong focus on improving the effectiveness of technology in education (EdTech). With XenEd, Crystal Delta provides a cloud-based digital learning platform that can be deployed quickly and can scale to meet the online learning requirements of institutions and organizations of any size, today and well into the future. XenEd goes beyond the primary Open edX platform to enhance the online instruction and learning outcomes for educators and learners.
More information at https://crystaldelta.com/