'Cooperation in the Contemporary World' MOOC

The story of a University of Birmingham and FutureLearn #MOOC #freeonlinecourse which ran from 12th May to 1st June 2014.



  2. 'Cooperation in the contemporary world: unlocking international politics' was the first MOOC produced by the College of Social Sciences and the sixth from the University of Birmingham, delivered via FutureLearn. The course drew on the insights of leading researchers and practitioners from the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS); Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS); and International Development Department (IDD) within the School of Government and Society.

    The first item to be released and something we are very proud of.
  4. 'Cooperation in the contemporary world' - free online course on FutureLearn.com
  5. Fun Fact: At one point the core team could recite the whole trailer script.
  6. Pre course and during the course we tweeted cooperation related news and ideas, with especial focus on our themes and subject areas (NATO, EU, Climate Change, Peacebuilding, Cold War and Sino-Japanese Relations).
  7. The countdown timer started working faster at the -4 weeks and 3 days point. We were busy during this time with course quality assurance (QA).

  9. At the end of this course the learner should be able to:

    1. Identify the complexity and diversity of the forms of cooperation that define international politics today;
    2. Evaluate the possibilities and limits of various cooperative arrangements;
    3. Apply some of the key concepts in international politics to a range of case study contexts;
    4. Identify some of the key factors that motivate and impede cooperative outcomes;
    5. Discuss lessons learned in relation to your own work environment and/or current affairs.

  11. We started our consideration of cooperation in international politics by exploring relevant underpinning theories introduced by Professor Nicholas J. Wheeler. You can view the resources here:
  12. Each week focused on a high level cooperation theme (below) and allowed learners to explore cooperation through one or two aligned case study ‘puzzles’.

    Each puzzle was led by an expert from within the University of Birmingham and aimed to reflect the issues and concerns that dominate current international agendas:

    Week 1 - Cooperation between Partners

    NATO (Professor Mark Webber) and the European Union (Dr Graham Timmins)

    Week 2 - Cooperation between Diverse Actors
    Climate Change (Dr Fiona Nunan and Dr Sevasti-Eleni Vezirgiannidou) and Peace Building (Professor Paul Jackson)

    Week 3 - Cooperation between Enemies
    Cold War (Professor Nicholas J Wheeler) and Sino-Japanese Security (Dr Julie Gilson)
  13. Case Study Experts (Clockwise from bottom left): Prof Paul Jackson, Prof Mark Webber, Dr Julie Gilson, Dr Fiona Nunan, Dr Graham Timmins, Dr Sevasti-Eleni Vezirgiannidou, Prof Nicholas J. Wheeler


  16. We were keen to employ best practice in flexible, online distance learning, and to ensure that learners are be able to fit learning around their life, and not fit life around learning.

    We published the course in full on our start date and all content and discussion is available to enrolled learners beyond the course finish date.

    Typical Learning Week Layout
    Each week is divided into four sections to encourage accessibility:
    A. Welcome and getting started
    B. Case Study Puzzle One
    C. Case Study Puzzle Two
    D. Week in Review

    Each case study is then made up of the following elements:

    Welcome (Introduction to each case study, the case study lead and ‘table of contents’ (to help learners plan their time)
    A. Obstacles and challenges
    B. Methods for achieving cooperation
    C. Analysis
    D. Lesson about cooperation
    Time to Talk discussion

    Typical Content Page
    Each case study page (A-D) included:
    - Video presentation
    - Accompanying introductory text (2-3 paragraphs)
    - 'Pause for Thought' **
    - Downloadable Materials (video transcript and optional additional materials)
    - 'See Also' Links #

    ** Pause for Thought questions were designed to encourage reflection. These were optional but we recommend that learners spend a little time considering the questions and browsing the comments made by educators and fellow learners. We recommended learners select one of the trigger questions and spend aprox. 5-10 minutes to complete each.
    # 'See Also' links provide a range of free web based resources designed to encourage deeper engagement with the subject materials for those that wish to extend their learning experience now or in the future