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Vince Cable launches new MOOC

Vince Cable explains why he wants to make economics accessible to all with online course available from March

Posted by Sophie Beyer | January 24, 2017 | Higher education

Vince Cable has announced a new economics course in collaboration with FutureLearn and Nottingham University.   The MOOC is available to everyone via FutureLearn, the global social learning platform owned by the Open University (OU).  The institutions have collaborated on the new course ‘The Politics of Economics and The Economics of Politicians’ with Vince Cable as the lead educator. 

The course, available from March 2017, will explore the link between politics and economics by looking at some major political figures and the key economic ideas they have adopted.

Sir Vince Cable studied economics at Cambridge.  He first became involved with the OU forty years ago and is now Honorary Professor of Economics at Nottingham University.  Of course, as former Coalition Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills he can see the benefits of using technology for wider adult learning.

Vince says: “I have spent around half my adult life as an economist in universities, government and business and the rest in politics. As such, I have been fascinated by the links between the two: how politicians use economic ideas and how economists influence policy.  Most of the big economic ideas we see being applied in the real world are there because politicians adopted, promoted and implemented them.”

I hope to inspire people to learn more about economics and politics, appreciate the relationship between the two fields, and use this knowledge to help understand the economic and political situation of today

Vince explains the course came about as he was looking at great economic and political figures, and the overlap between politics and economics, through a project using traditional publishing media.  He then thought it would be interesting to explore a different way of doing things.  Familiar with the OU model, multi-media and distance learning, the former politician is interested in new ways of educating using technology.  One inspiration has been Vince’s grandchild who enjoys using tech while learning.

The new course content examines economics and politicians from around the world.  Vince continued: “This project looks at some of the key political figures who came to represent major economic movements: Thatcher and Thatcherism; Deng and Chinese reform; Ehrhard and the German ‘wirtschaftswunder’; and comparable figures in earlier generations. By delving into these movements, I hope to inspire people to learn more about economics and politics, appreciate the relationship between the two fields, and use this knowledge to help understand the economic and political situation of today, and tomorrow.”

There was criticism of experts and economic forecasts in 2016 around the EU referendum.  Vince explained: “We are getting a questioning of economics as a subject.  People in the profession are at least partly to blame for this.”  His own education he says was very good, but subsequently students might not have enjoyed the variety when studying economics, with a growing emphasis on mathematics in more recent years.  “Something that introduces economics with a bit more humility, which introduces people to very basic ideas, and how they fit into a political context…is quite a good way of getting economics more grounded.”

The MOOC will be used at Nottingham as an introductory element for their first year economics students.  FutureLearn is an international platform with 75% of its users based outside of the UK.  Collaborating with FutureLearn allows the former politician to reach a wider audience at a time of rapid change in the global political and economic landscape.  He explained one of the advantages of teaming up with FutureLearn is that it allows a less didactic approach, and he praised the platform’s professionalism.  Vince is hoping to reach a wider audience, and that the course is coherent and appealing enough to retain more learners.

Students can enrol from 23 January and the course will be available from 20 March 2017.

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