20 Jan Launched: our FREE Gentle Craftivism e-course with Alison.com
Having an e-course in our toolkit has been on my To Do list for a couple of years, and with the COVID-19 lockdowns around the world it feels especially timely. Every year the number of requests I receive from universities asking me to guest lecture increases, as well as the number of emails from students wanting to interview me for their dissertations. Our books are on more and more course Reading Lists, from political science to textiles and fine art degrees, MAs and PhDs. Our work is relevant to so many disciplines. Pre-lockdown I would always have at least one person at our events come and tell me that they did their dissertation on craftivism! Our blogpost “Resources for Students’ is still one of our most popular.
I’m also always looking for ways to support non-students all over the world who ask for help for their craftivism actions. Last year I researched online course formats and spoke to a number of providers – all of them were super interested in hosting a Gentle Protest Craftivism course (obvs!;p). Yet some concerns stopped me. The first being that I’m not a trained teacher. What if the structure of the course I wrote was wrong? Some e-course platforms wanted to film me delivering workshops and that would be expensive (and difficult with lockdown this year!). Some wanted the courses to be time-bound and for me to mark homework. Some courses would cost a lot of money for students or universities to pay to join. Some courses would only be for university level students…
Then I met the CEO of Alison; Mike Feerick and heard about his personal journey and his e-course platform Alison.com. Mike is an Ashoka Fellow like me. I immediately liked him – not just because of his Irish accent (I have family from Ireland and Liverpool is widely known for having the strongest Irish heritage of any city in the UK!). He’s an impressive guy with an MBA from Harvard, an intimidating CV, a long list of awards as a changemaker and he’s widely recognised as the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provider, launching Alison.com in 2007. Yet Mike is incredibly humble, gentle in his presentation skills and interactions with people and passionate to be part of the positive change he wishes to see in our world. His ambition for a better society is infectious!
Hearing him talk about how Alison.com was free to everyone to use (they gain income from advertising and students buying certificates if they want physical copies, which are not essential), anywhere in the world was inspiring! With 14million registered learners, 2million graduates and 1500 free courses, Alison.com is one of the world’s largest players in online education and one of the world’s largest certifiers of educational and skills attainment. Mike and I had a zoom meeting and he offered to turn my book, How To Be A Craftivist, into a free course and for me to oversee the process with two of his team, Maeve Richardson and Deirbhile Brennan. All at no cost to us (because my time could be paid for by our amazing #AdoptACraftivist patrons)! We both agreed to see this as a pilot project to present to other Ashoka Fellows around the world to encourage them to follow suit. The impact of this could have a greater ripple effect than just for people on this particular course.
Our course is laid out as simple slides with text and images to click through and with questions after each module to answer and pass. Therefore you don’t need high-speed internet to take part and it’s much more accessible than videos for people whose first language is not English. People from Borneo to Brazil to Belgium can fit the courses around their other commitments and timezones. Their courses are made as timeless as possible so they are useful for years to come and I hope our course is well used
Interview with founder of Alison.com e-courses:
The founder and CEO of free education provider, Alison.com, tells us about his new activism course with Craftivist Collective.
How long have you known of Sarah’s work with Craftivist Collective?
I met Sarah through the Ashoka Fellowship community earlier in the year. There are 4000 Ashoka Fellows globally, selected for their innovative new ideas in social enterprise – it’s a tremendous group of people with integrity at their heart. I was giving a virtual talk and a summary of my journey and Sarah was asked to share her story, too. She’s a very likeable character with a wonderful mission and I want to see her do well. I like to encourage my peers – it’s a pet project of mine to try and publish free courses from all Ashoka Fellows – and I emailed her afterwards to see if there was a way we could work together.
How did the idea for this online course come about?
Sarah kindly sent me a copy of her book, How to be a Craftivist, and it was very clear how we could roll it out as an e-course. I believe education underpins all social progress and I want to support her activism and help her spread her message. It’s a case of, “How do we use every part of the cow?” as Henry Ford used to say! There are tools at your disposal you may not see straight away and I think Alison.com is one of those tools for Craftivist Collective. I want to work with people like Sarah to promote good ideas and organised methodologies that people can learn from to better their world.
Have you seen a growing demand for socially-conscious courses such as this?
Not necessarily a demand, but I see a need for them now more than ever. I want to be active in us sharing this type of information. Steve Jobs said, “Sometimes people don’t know what they want, you have to give it to them.” What I have seen is that people are very keen to work in places with a social dimension to them, and do a job that has a bit more soul to it – how can we take that ground swell of humanity, liberate it and accelerate it? I believe we can do it through our courses.
What are your plans for the course once it’s launched?
I have big plans for this course. I want Sarah’s offering to be an example to the Ashoka audience, and I want her to reap the rewards of sharing this work, too. I’d like her to feel that not only did she teach people how to protest gently, but that she was able to make an income that will help her to keep going with this important work. I want to highlight her as somebody to listen to.
eCourse launched 20th January 2021:
Please do consider ‘adopting a craftivist’ for £10 a month or a one-off payment of £120 before 1st February 2021 for the year to help me (Sarah) continue to produce free and accessible gentle craftivism resources to people around the world. You will receive an exclusive print yearbook with thanks, praise and gratitude. More information here —> https://craftivist-collective.com/adopt-a-craftivist