MOOC-less in Africa

Blog post by Laura Czerniewicz and Uvani Naidoo
9 September 2013

This map shows the location of the 19 MOOC providers round the world: 8 in the USA, 1 in the UK, 1 in Ireland, 4 in Europe, 2 in Central and South America, 2 in Australia, and 1 in China. And – starkly - none at all in the whole of the African continent.

Why does this matter? In short, because it leaves Africans as recipients of global education offerings, not creators of it. While many of the MOOCs on offer may be exciting and interesting to Africans and everyone else, many may not. None of the MOOCs on offer via the MOOC aggregator Class Central are about Africa nor do they appear to include any content about Africa at all.

One might suggest that these MOOCs are a great starting point, and that in the spirit of open education, they could be adapted and remixed for local conditions. But a first scan of the licenses of the main MOOC providers indicates that this is not possible. Even Udacity’s Creative Commons licence is the narrowest kind, not allowing derivatives. So it is a matter of take the courses and their curricula or leave them.

A vision of education as a global marketplace with Africa as the consumers and the rest of the world as the providers is not in Africa’s interests. It is time we got on the map!

MOOC World Map

MOOC Providers [MOOC Map created by Uvania Naidoo, OpenUCT Intern] - Click on the map to access the interactive version.


Class Central. Available at: [Accessed: 6 September 2013].   

Map: Worldwide MOOC Providers. Available at: [Accessed: 5 September 2013].

ListedTech. Worldwide MOOCs (19 systems). Available at: [Accessed: 4 September 2013].

Internet World Stats. Available at: [Accessed: 13 August 2013].

Information Week Education. Udacity Hedges on Open Licensing for MOOCs. Available at: [Accessed: 6 September 2013].

by Laura Czerniewicz and Uvania Naidoo


Submitted by Dr Juan Klopper on

Their is no shortage of ability in creating MOOC's in Africa. I am currently working on two and have discussed this with OpenUCT and the CHED at UCT. The University authorities need to connect us up / sign up to the various service providers, that's all!

Submitted by Jerome Terpase Dooga on

Contrary to the submission that Africa's absence from the global MOOCS map presents Africa as merely consumers of knowledge and not creators thereof, I feel that Africa is simply just not providing knowledge through this medium--at the moment. In truth, Africa is not yet ready for MOOCS. By their nature, MOOCS are more for public enlightenment, some kind of community service or institutional promotion, or institutional social responsibility project, than it is about the kind of learning for which most institutions are set up. MOOCS moreover are outward looking, in the sense that, while they may benefit a section of enrolled learners, appear to primarily target those out there who desire some general knowledge about a particular subject. They are not generally used as part of the credit awarding process of institutions. In any case, the very idea of MOOCS being ONLINE presents it's own challenges on the African continent. True, there has been an unprecedented spread of mobile access in Africa. Even so, one must ask, how affordable and accessible is functional internet access as a result of this spread? In other words, how MASSIVE can MOOCS really be in Africa, at this time? Then one must consider the enormous costs associated with designing and developing a MOOC course, and wonder whether in the end, the effort is worth the cost. In this sense, one begins to question the very idea of "free," which is often associated with MOOCS. In this very piece, Czerniewicz admits that MOOCS are really not open as the claim is. I am even worried about such terms as "providers," because these terms seem to suggest that MOOCS by the way require some considerable infrastructure to set them up, such that they may not be easily and quickly replicated. This service provider bit adds to growing costs, which in the long run, few institutions can sustain. All things considered, I would submit that Africa should concentrate on achieving functional, affordable and accessible internet connectivity. Africa should sustain the efforts that have been made in the last decade or so to contribute to open content and grow OERs. In time, if MOOCS become really useful, Africa will adopt. Let's not try to keep up with the Jones-es, as the saying goes.