Sharing Perspectives in How to Finance Development

The head of a rural women farmer’s cooperative in the Philippines. A United Nations staff member in Azerbaijan. An Indonesian social enterprise director helping local farmers. A Ghanaian with a master’s degree specializing in agriculture and development economics. A Nigerian social enterprise entrepreneur. A Bangladeshi journalist working on gender and women’s rights issues.

Each member of this disparate group participated in a recent four-week Financing for Development Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) designed and hosted by the Open Learning Campus of the World Bank Group. They, and other participants, had in common a deep interest in the development process, and a desire to understand together how the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), launched at the United Nations this past September, can be financed.

The World Bank’s Open Learning Campus is a single destination for transformational learning about development. The Open Learning Campus offers MOOCs because of their potential to raise awareness and sensitize a large, global and diverse audience on complex development topics such as climate change, gender or sanitation. They offer an interactive platform for a lively exchange among experts and participants. Today’s online community is influential, and the MOOC is a powerful tool that can be tailored to use that community to strengthen support for the global development agenda.

MOOCs can be a valuable platform for disseminating the World Bank’s knowledge and in building awareness of development issues.

The Financing for Development MOOC registered more than 27,500 participants from 199 countries and territories. Participants produced almost 1,800 creative digital artifacts for their final project. They identified a development problem from their community or professional context and proposed a financing solution, applying key learnings from the course. These ambitious projects may be first steps to catalyze development projects with lasting impact.

Project examples included an Indian participant’s exploration of how to link medical tourism and agriculture in rural areas to improve health resources; a proposed Web-based start-up from a Chilean participant that matches infrastructure project sponsors with potential financiers; and thoughts by a Pakistani participant on how to mobilize domestic resources to finance youth technical education and vocational training.

Now that the MOOC itself is completed, close to 1,100 participants have joined a participant-administered LinkedIn Financing for Development MOOC Community that supports networking, knowledge exchange and follow-up actions. This group is continuing the course’s robust forum discussions, with perspectives and knowledge coming from across all sectors and regions. The MOOC’s impact may continue through these peer-to-peer exchanges, as well as through additional development initiatives that they encourage.

The Financing for Development MOOC generated strong and continuing interest among a strikingly varied group of participants, highlighting at a reasonable cost the World Bank Group’s visibility and knowledge of development solutions. Used strategically, MOOCs can be a valuable platform for disseminating the Bank’s knowledge and in building awareness of development issues.

Posted December 2015