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Bringing social innovation into your community

20 Jul 2016 - 08:45

“When you are immersed in the challenge, you are best suited to become a social innovator to tackle it” -  inspiring words from Marlon Parker, founder of the Reconstructed Living Labs (RLabs) at the launch of the UCT’s latest Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), Becoming a changemaker: Introduction to Social Innovation which is offered in partnership with the UCT GSB Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The MOOC - a free online course with no entry requirements - takes you on a journey of what it means to be a social innovator in your own community through the story of RLabs, a social movement ‘born-and-bred’ in Bridgetown, Cape Town which is now active in 22 countries. RLabs empowers youth through innovative and disruptive technology by teaching them vital skills and providing much needed support and a sense of community. The course starts 25 July 2016.

The evening to launch the MOOC kicked off with words from both Dr Francois Bonicci of the Bertha Centre and Marlon Parker about the importance of social innovation and the experience of making this MOOC. They were followed by Professor Steve Reid, one of the lead educators on UCT’s first MOOC, Medicine and the Arts: Humanising Healthcare who commented that the 8000 enrolments on its first run was quite a change from the 20 or so students who usually enroll on-campus. Commenting on the experience of creating a MOOC, Professor Reid said, “It's been the most amazing journey with the staff of CILT making the animal that it's become now".   

Over 150 guests were then inspired by a panel who had been involved in making the MOOC: Parker, Dr Bonicci, Dr Warren Nilsson (UCT GSB), Professor Mugendi K. M’Rithaa (Cape Peninsula University of Technology), Clinton Liederman (RLabs) and Sukaina Walji (CILT UCT). Professor M’Rithaa summed up the panel’s message when he remarked, “One bangle does not jingle…we need everyone to jingle”, - emphasising that community participation is needed to truly make a difference. Each panellist brought a unique perspective to the discussion but all agreed on one key message, that anyone can be a changemaker.

This is a key focus of the MOOC which is designed to debunk common assumptions around what resources are needed, as well as to encourage people to begin acting as social innovators and changemakers. Participants will follow the journey of RLabs and other examples of social innovations in Africa and all over the world. They will be challenged out of their comfort zones and inspired to start engaging in and with the diverse spaces, people, challenges and opportunities around them.

After speeches by UCT's VC Max Price, DVC Sandra Klopper and CILT Director Laura Czerniewicz, the evening drew to a close as Dr Bonicci thanked his team at the Bertha Centre, CILT and RLabs for their contributions. He specifically thanked members of the UCT MOOCs team: Tasneem Jaffer, Monde Kawana, Don Leitch and Sukaina Walji, who put in countless hours to complete this MOOC and the exciting possibilities it brings with it.