Education 2019

Available in Open Access: Massive Open Online Education for Environmental Activism

9 july 2019 - In the Open Access article 'Massive Open Online Education for Environmental Activism: The Worldwide Problem of Marine Litter', published in the May 2019 issue of Sustainability magazine, the authors, including Ansje Löhr from the Department of Natural Sciences, evaluated the use of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in the dissemination of environmental awareness.

About the article

The amount of plastic released into the environment has increased dramatically in recent decades and has a negative impact on marine ecosystems, society and the global economy. The policies put in place to address this problem are inadequate. There is an urgent need for local action based on the current understanding of the factors involved.

The paper examines the potential of MOOCs for disseminating environmental education and mobilising participants to take action themselves. The conclusions drawn from the implementation of a MOOC to combat the problem of marine litter in the world are presented. 

The study describes the activities of 3,632 participants from 64 countries who actively participated in the MOOC Marine Litter, providing them with a range of tools to tackle the problem of marine waste worldwide. The participants drew up a variety of action plans, often for their own region, which also brought them into contact with important (global) networks. Pre- and post-questionnaires examined behavioural changes regarding the actions of the participants in the fight against marine litter. The role of MOOCs is weighed against that of social media, formal education and informal education. 

The findings show that MOOCs are useful instruments for promoting environmental activism and for developing local solutions to global environmental problems. Many initiatives were developed by the participants, such as actions for clean beaches, the reduction of plastic bottles, educational initiatives and the ban on disposable plastic.

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MOOC on Marine Litter in 7 languages aims for 10.000 participants

Nearly 6,000 people worldwide have registered for the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Marine Litter launched on 29 April 2019 at the Open University. As registration is open until 12 May 2019, the number of participants is expected to increase by several thousands.

Massive Open Online Course on Marine Litter

The MOOC Marine Litter was launched on 29 April 2019.

Registration MOOC on Marine Litter for worldwide audience now possible

On April 29th, 2019, the Open University of the Netherlands will have the inaugural class of its newest Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Marine Litter. The course will be available in all UN languages, making a global issue available to a global audience. The course content is tailored to the different regions of our planet.

The previous Marine Litter MOOC (provided for free and available in English and Spanish) attracted thousands of participants. Ocean pollution is a global issue, therefore the Leadership track of the MOOC is being made available in all UN languages and Portuguese. 'We realize that more than 1.5 billion people speak English or Spanish. However, there are many more world citizens who live in countries with an immense coastline. Think for example of South America, China, Russia or the Middle East. Marine Litter is also an immense problem in these regions. Through this MOOC we want to activate participants to come into action against marine litter. In order to do so we provide them with good knowledge and tools and many inspiring examples' announced Ansje Löhr, the project leader of the MOOC.

Registration for the MOOC is currently open. From April 29th 2019, students will be able to participate in training in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese and Russian.

Marine Litter

The global pollution of seas and oceans with waste is a growing problem that requires a global approach. It is identified by the United Nations as one of the most important environmental problems of the 21st century. Plastic waste entering the environment poses major risks. It is harmful to organisms living in the sea, and there are increasing indications that (micro-)plastics can enter our food chain via accumulation.

MOOC Cooperation with UN Environment

In recent years, UN Environment has worked on a worldwide network for the prevention and management of marine waste. This has led, among other things, to the establishment of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter, in which UN Environment and the Open University of the Netherlands have jointly developed the MOOC on Marine Litter. The MOOC provides context and insight into the latest developments, and tools and methods to tackle the issue are provided.