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Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00340

Exploring Our Oceans: using the global classroom to develop ocean literacy

  • 1University of Southampton, United Kingdom

Developing the ocean literacy of individuals of all ages from all countries, cultures, and economic backgrounds is essential to inform choices for sustainable living in the future, but how we reach and represent diverse voices is a challenge. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offer a possible tool to achieve this goal, as they can potentially reach large numbers of people including those from lower and middle income regions. The number of MOOCs themed around ocean science and/or literacy is growing rapidly, and here we share experience of developing and delivering a MOOC entitled "Exploring Our Oceans", which has run ten times in the past four years with around 40,000 participants worldwide. The "Exploring Our Oceans" MOOC incorporates a blend of x-mooc and c-mooc techniques grounded in both instructivist and constructivist theories, thereby emphasising contributions from a global community of learners and encouraging individual agency in relation to ocean citizenship. The impacts of the MOOC include evidence of changed awareness and attitudes to ocean issues; increased applications and participation in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes; development of communication and outreach skills in the postgraduate community and partnership building with Nelson Mandela University, South Africa. These impacts, and vignettes of learner experiences in the course, are discussed in the context of the effectiveness of MOOCs in developing global ocean literacy.

Keywords: Ocean literacy, MOOC, Online Learning, open education, Distance learners

Received: 07 Jan 2019; Accepted: 04 Jun 2019.

Edited by:

Angel Borja, Centro tecnológico experto en innovación marina y alimentaria (AZTI), Spain

Reviewed by:

Jeroen Ingels, Florida State University, United States
Nafsika Papageorgiou, Department of Biology, School of Sciences and Engineering, University of Crete, Greece  

Copyright: © 2019 Fielding, Copley and Mills. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Sarah Fielding, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom,