The Potential of Online Learning in Globalizing Political Science Education: The Case of the IPSAMOOCs

Miss Andressa Liegi Vieira Costa
Dr. Ana Figueroa
Dr. Max Steuer
Miss Bruna Veríssimo

In the recent years, Political Science became part of the disciplines that offer Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to audiences around the globe. On one hand, the rise of a digital classroom offers flexibility and possibilities for individualization and personalization of the learning experience. On the other hand, it brings challenges, especially regarding the actual capability of this use of technology to provide equal access to quality education in different regions of the world. Given that, this paper aims to understand the potential of online learning in making Political Science education more accessible and widespread particularly, but not only, in the Global South. It analyses the case of the IPSAMOOCs, run by an international university centre (Federica Weblearning) in collaboration with the International Political Science Association (IPSA) and the recognized platform of edX. A multi-method design is utilized, combining the use of statistics obtained through edX, focus groups, and survey data. The IPSAMOOCs present a global potential as courses have been adopted and adapted in developing countries as a systematic attempt to democratize education. With the IPSAMOOCs being the largest global Political Science education project through MOOCs to date, it is critical to understand the potential and limits of this initiative at the heart of which is a connected program of five courses on Introduction to Political Science, providing a first mapping of the IPSAMOOCs. Given that, this paper provides a closer look on regional balance to investigate how the courses have been reaching students from different regions with emphasis on the Global South, in order to understand its globalizing potential. It also allows comprehending the motivations, challenges, and role of the courses behind the experience of learners with different backgrounds. Preliminary results show a significant enrollment of students from the Global South, especially from Asia and emergent countries such as India. Additionally, the IPSAMOOCs play a complementary role to regular university education, being able to foster interdisciplinary research by connecting Political Science with other fields of study.