New Version of the free online ‘Make Change Happen’ course launched this week – check it out

October 3, 2023

     By Duncan Green     

One of the more enjoyable things I’ve been involved in at Oxfam in recent years is the Make Change Happen MOOC (Massive Open Online Course – where have you been?). A new version is launching this week – if you haven’t already done it, let me try and persuade you to sign up/promote it to your networks.  When joining the course the ‘limited access’ version gives free access to all the content for 8 weeks.

First launched in 2018, it was developed with Open University and is hosted on the Futurelearn website.  So far 17k people from 138 countries have registered for the course, 10k have participated in some part of the learning journey and 1k have completed the full 8 weeks.  This is in line with the average for free online courses, as they are often squeezed in around other paid and unpaid work.  We front loaded the content so even if people are not able to finish, we hope they get something informative and inspiring from it. 

The feedback on the first version has been great:

“This course has been incredibly useful as a learning resource. It was well researched, backed up with solid examples at every point, and had us hearing from great changemakers.”

“Extremely user friendly and very do-able in spite of having a hectic work schedule. I was constantly looking forward to the next week of the course.”

“This course has had such an abundance of ideas of advice. I wish I had done it years ago and am recommending it to activists in order to become more effective.”

And my personal favourite:

“I was feeling tired inside me, the course rekindled my passion for change, and that is invaluable. Thank you.”

Here’s what they work through in the 8 weeks:

The aim is to support activists and changemakers working on social, political, economic and environmental justice issues with something that falls between another PDF about influencing and super-expensive face to face training.  The MOOC provides a combination of articles, frameworks, videos of changemakers and (crucially) online discussion forums and peer-to-peer exchange, where much of the learning happens. It draws on a lot of Oxfam influencing experience, including my book, How Change Happens, but also a bunch of external and internal training materials, some of it published.

Thanks to the indefatigable Emily Gillingham for the 2023 update, which includes:

  • New Featured Changemakers – interviews with 9 people from a range of organisations, movements and communities – including activists from India, Peru, Kenya, Nigeria, OPT, Syria, UK and US – sharing their experience, viewpoints, and inspiration
  • New Case Studies throughout the course – 20+ case studies from all around the world showing a broad range of change processes, including, for example, Black women’s activism in Brazil, feminist anti-GBV collectives in China, inequality campaigning in Peru, ending child marriage in Philippines, indigenous rights in Australia, tax justice in Ghana, unpaid care campaigning in UK, women and peace work in Yemen, youth activism in Bolivia and South Africa, climate justice legal challenges in France, the story behind equal marriage legislation in the US, and more…
  • New conflict sensitive lens threaded throughout – ensuring learners have an awareness of navigating conflict, risk and restrictions on civil space
  • Updated text throughout – ensuring a robust intersectional feminist and equalities lens, aligned with new thinking on how change happens, responding to critiques and feedback from earlier runs
  • Updated images throughout – profiling the work of partner organisations and activists around the world, as well as the diversity of Oxfam’s work
  • Links to other resources and organisations – providing additional places for learners to engage
  • New Educators supporting learners on their journey – drawn from across the Oxfam confederation and beyond. 

If anyone from other organisations would like to become an Educator and help mentor learners on their journeys do get in touch with us.

As a next phase of the project we are looking to replicate the course onto the OpenLearn Create platform.  Here we will remove the discussion fora, which is a pity, but it means we can then remove the ‘cohort’ nature of the course and keep it always open so that people can complete the units and the activities at their own pace.  We will also be able to offer certificates to all those that complete the course. 

We are also looking to deliver the course in languages beyond English on this new platform.  If any organisations would like to get involved in supporting or funding translations of the course, please get in touch.  Also, we will be exploring the options for adding further modules so interested to hear what would be most valuable.

Over to you

October 3, 2023
Duncan Green


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