Another #MOOC! Towards Scottish Independence? Understanding the Referendum

Edinburgh University (@UniofEdinburgh) have a #MOOC on #IndyRef #EdIndyRef which aims to educate and engage voters and observers in the forthcoming referendum.

I’m not engaging here in a political debate, nor supporting sides, but from an educational perspective (indeed legal education in particular) this MOOC might offer something useful in the run-up and aftermath of the referendum.

The six-week course started this week in late August and will run deliberately until w/c 29th September, which is two weeks after the 18th September 2014 referendum day.  Although the sign-up page suggests 2 hours per week, I’ve spent much more time poking around in the 20 separate entries for this week alone, containing text, videos, articles and discussions.  I’ve yet to complete the seminar work too (typical student!!), it’s already 3:30pm on Friday and the seminar was at midday on Wednesday.  Most of it has been easy to watch or follow during coffee breaks during the working week so I’ve not set aside any time especially for this course.

The aims of the course are neatly packaged into six weeks work:

  1. Why is Scotland having a referendum?
  2. What does ‘Yes’ mean?
  3. What does ‘No’ mean?
  4. What do Scots think?
  5. The Day After
  6. What Next?

This week contains lots of materials worthy of including in a Constitutional Law module, but dwells more on public policy.  Educationally, there are some good bite-size chunks with videos of approx. 8 minutes and followed by a discussion point to make watching the video at least worth-while as you can’t engage with the next section without watching it!

Looking at Catalonia and Quebec offered some interesting comparative material, which is always interesting from an education perspective.  Comparative law isn’t taught nearly as much as it perhaps could or should be.  Perhaps there are too many curriculum constraints from the regulators, or perhaps educators aren’t imaginative enough / equipped / supported / incentivised to introduce it.

Next week’s materials aren’t there yet, so I can’t plan ahead to make time for the live seminar as yet.  I’m sure there are many good reasons not to release learning materials too far in advance, but the lecturer inside me does wonder… “Have they written them yet?!”