I've been the host for the CELCIS Caring for Vulnerable Children (CFVC) Massive Open Online Course for the last few years, which basically means I keep the course updated and keep an eye on all the discussions while the course is running. Since CFVC has high levels of social interaction it's a busy job and thousands of people write comments every week about their experience of studying online and their dreams and aspirations for the course.
It's been fascinating to see who entered this course as a professional and who entered to get a taste of what future careers in this field entails. One participant commented
"I haven't done much online study but after completing this course I have enrolled on two more" (Sarah)
A wonderful endorsement of the effort and care Graham McPheat, the course leader, put into the creation of this course. Little did he know it would win awards and to date it's had over 55,000 people take part from over 145 countries.
Many participants joined the course to learn more about working with vulnerable children with the idea of working in the field. Chiedozie wrote that the course has empowered him to be a better carer for orphans and vulnerable children, and for Ana it is has reaffirmed her desire to be involved in art projects that work with vulnerable populations. One participant, Janice, thanked the course team and explained:
"I reckon I need to be in this field. I can feel it in my bones". Shirley wrote "I really want to continue with my study in this area as I do not feel I can simply walk away from it now. It's got me gripped!"
I have read thousands of comments from participants, like Carole, who wrote:
"it has awoken a passion I have to work with vulnerable children"
As someone from a non-social work background, I've learnt a great deal about vulnerable children from hosting the course. I completely understand where participant Jessica was coming from when she wrote that she really liked that the course used one case study throughout and the final instalment of Billy's Story was a right tear jerker for her.
Billy's Story is a gripping fictitious narrative about a teenage boy and his mother. It is shown in six parts, with one instalment each week. I agree with Rachael that Billy's Story has highlighted that it is not just the protection of the child we need to consider and what can be done to help them, but we need to look at the family as a whole.
CFVC has opened my eyes to the real struggles the professionals face and how demanding it is for them. Lisa Marie perfectly captures how I feel about the course by commenting:
"I have learnt so much and at the same time have been made to feel so helpless. I am now going to look further and see how I can help more."
It's been the thousands of participants who have written about their own struggles and desires to help and discussed ideas for improving the lives of vulnerable children that has made my time as host for CFVC so rewarding. Participant Wisdom sums it up perfectly by commenting:
"we all need to make a better place for vulnerable children and their families"
This course has made me understand more fully the long-term effects on a child who has been in a vulnerable position, but more importantly (especially through Billy's Story) how important it is to be able to support the whole family in order to improve the outcomes of the child.
I feel incredibly lucky to be working on this course and look forward to the next run which starts on 23 October.
The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author/s and may not represent the views or opinions of CELCIS or our funders.
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