On January 27, 1945 the world discovered the horror of the Shoah, when Russian troops entered the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Seventy years later, while antisemitism remains a massive threat, Tel Aviv University and the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem (dedicated to Holocaust memory) have announced a MOOC on the Holocaust.
I like the quietness and intensity of the Yad Vashem. I like the idea that somewhere on the planet, there will always be a special place that keeps Holocaust memory alive, as though it were part of the landscape. I always shiver when entering the buried memorial almost entirely plunged into darkness, with tiny lights and tiny words that recall the names of all the children who disappeared during the Shoah. What will I experience with this MOOC? Will this online course provide me with the emotions that I feel when visiting Yad Vashem? In fact, it shouldn’t, it can’t.
I do not yet have any idea how this MOOC has been designed. I hope it will leave aside the emotion and concentrate on the Holocaust as a social learning experience.
This MOOC on the Holocaust can’t be a guided visit to the Yad Vashem or a video archive. A MOOC on the Holocaust should be, above all, a social learning experience: learning with others and from others, enabling learners to gain ownership of what they learn.
An experience took place in the USA called the “deeper learning Mooc”, challenging teachers and educators to question their practice. Interestingly enough, Holocaust memory was one of the subjects explored in depth by the teachers, school leaders and educators that joined the course.
We often question the utility of MOOCs. In this case, we should look at the MOOC as a unique opportunity to massively and openly reach tens of thousands of educators, engage them in a reflexive and interactive process to keep the Holocaust memory alive in our classrooms, and strengthen core values that hold as much importance today as they did in the past.
I hope this MOOC can be the first Citizen MOOC. A Citizen MOOC will convert any social issue into a learning experience based on dialogue, participation and citizen engagement.
Will this first Citizen MOOC on the Holocaust respond to these expectations? It will depend –mostly – on the learners and their capacity to engage and feel engaged. After all, this is what innovative learning should be about.
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