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Open sharing of education – making education accessible to everyone

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 15.19.31From day one the mission of KienHoc was clear and simple: to make world-class education accessible for every Vietnamese. Kienhoc believes that high-quality education should and could be made totally free, or at minimum costs. Eight Massive Open Online Courses from renowned western Universities have been translated to Vietnamese. This has already enriched the learning experience of over 2000 people who had limited exposure to such high-grade content previously. This is a story about how open sharing of education (via Creative Commons licensing) and crowdsourcing impacts the lives of thousands of learners by increasing access to education.

Increasing access

Kienhoc is a Vietnamese nonprofit organisation, founded in September 2015, by a team of young Vietnamese with a passion for education. At that time, MOOCs (massive open online courses) had already become mainstream through platforms like Coursera, edX, Udacity, and Udemy offering thousands of online courses to millions of people worldwide. There was enthusiasm about their potential to democratise education for every person on this planet.

The problem was that most of these courses are delivered in English, and it can be an enormous challenge to study in a foreign language, especially for highly technical subjects. They realised that these incredibly rich and wonderful contents remain distant to the people most in need, in developing countries like Vietnam. So the founders of Kienhoc decided to team together to change that situation by closing this gap.

Standing on the shoulders of giants

Kienhoc: “Our current approach is to stand on the shoulders of giants when it comes to sourcing educational contents. We take courses (in English) offered by top universities under the Creative Commons license, which lets us reuse and adapt the materials for the local audience. Admittedly, this model has a limitation as at the moment only a handful of MOOCs have such a license. This is regrettable because making MOOCs truly open, like the second ‘O’ in its title, can bring huge benefits to both universities and learners. Releasing educational materials under an open license is unlikely to put any extra burden on universities as most MOOC courses are free to audit, for example on platforms like edX and Coursera. Yet doing so will put the community in the driver’s seat and allows them to not only translate but also create derivative or additional works that are more friendly toward learners like ours. So we see this as a very practical solution to democratising college and higher education.”

A community of learners, translators and experts

Kienhoc: “Translation of courses is done via crowdsourcing with the help of hundreds of volunteers. We place a very strong emphasis on the quality of the output of this process: All translations are reviewed by subject-matter experts, whom we call course advisors, to assure that there is no loss in the translated versions, and that the new contents are comprehensible for learners. Experts are also responsible for designing a syllabus that fits the interests of local learners, including the creation of quizzes, assignments and exams.”

“Initially they are recruited from our academic network, but increasingly more experts choose to work with us because they believe in our cause. They may be postdoctoral researchers, university lecturers, or someone who has expertise in a certain field. They live in Vietnam or overseas in different continents. But they all do this out of their passion for spreading knowledge and doing so as volunteers. Another aspect we care about is learners’ experience and their participation in a course. For this we are actively promoting course discussions using a common study group on Facebook, which is frequently monitored by our team and course advisors. Soon we will try other approaches such as having online sessions where students can interact and have their questions answered by instructors in real time.”

The first courses

Kienhoc officially launched their first two courses in March 2016, which were the popular CS50 – Introduction to Computer Science from Harvard, available on edX, and the first module in the self-paced course Fundamentals of Biology from MIT, available on MIT OCW. Since then they have released six additional courses, among which two courses from TU Delft: Frame101x – Framing: how politicians debate, and Ex101x – Data analysis: take it to the MAX(), and others like Justice from Harvard; Fundamentals of Biology Part II from MIT; Introduction to Psychology and Financial Markets from Yale.

A number of factors contributed to this initial selection of course catalog, most notably the limited availability of Creative Commons courses and accessibility to subject-matter experts, who had to be recruited but were persuaded by their mission. In the near future Kienhoc plans to have more liberal art courses, including those in social science that are in high demand.

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 15.19.02

The first eight released courses and three others soon to be released

Kienhoc: “We would also like to have a few foundational courses for each field of study so that anyone who is interested can start their journey from scratch with us. Furthermore, more in-depth programs like a specialisation or series on Coursera and edX are also being considered.”

First results

Kienhoc: “So far we have got some encouraging feedback, and our team would like to thank our wonderful community of volunteer translators, collaborators, reviewers, and advisors, for making it possible. At the time of writing we have over 2,000 active learners who registered over 3,500 enrolments in the eight courses. Most students are aged from 18 to 25, a sizable number are with a bachelor or higher degree. The majority of users live in Vietnam but we do see people residing in other countries enrolling in our courses, too. Together they have watched over 83,000 hours of video lectures. Our two most popular courses are CS50 and Psychology, the latter attracted over 1,000 learners within the first day of launching.”

“One of our initial concerns was that learning through English lectures with Vietnamese captions may not be effective. So we spoke to our users and contrary to our thought, most of them said that was not an issue. In fact they are happy that they can now study with subtitles whereas before a significant amount of time had to be spent on the language matter. Students are also very excited to experience Western education and pleased with the content which has not been accessible to them previously.”

Learn more

If you would like to hear more about their journey, feel free to Take a look at the Kienhoc website or contact the team at info@kienhoc.vn 

Delftx Courses on Kienhoc: Framing & Data Analysis


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