Econowha? Is an online educational resource that is available online for free. It is comprised of a 9 part lesson plan, featuring guest bloggers for each unit, things to read and watch, suggested learning outcomes and an online discussion space to aid the learning process.
In our development education on debt justice we found that adult learners have a need to understand the global economy and financial crisis to a greater degree. In trying to address this, we found very few materials on this subject that are not highly academic. We developed Econowha? in part to address this.
Developed in association with UCD School of Social Justice, with adult learners in mind, the concept is simple; the resource is online; we recommend that people form ‘learning circles’ in their organisations, groups or communities, and explore the issues themselves or collectively with the learning circles.
The resource explores; economics, financial crisis, debt justice, the economy in global south countries, and critical literacy. It also offers new perspectives, for example, women’s perspectives and ecological perspectives.
Econowha? can be found at www.econowha.ie
NGOs, trade unions, community development projects, university student groups, initial teachers, amongst others.
- The resource was launched on April 24th 2014
- It has no end-date and is an on-going project as such.
- We recommend people who use the resource do so for a period of nine weeks.
- From the learner/users perspective, all the materials needed are available on the site.
- Learners, in a group, would need space to meet and discuss the resource, and access to computers and the internet to access the resource.
- We interviewed the Jubilee Debt Campaign UK about a similar project which they were piloting in the UK in order to identify the process which they had undertaken and to identify capacity we would require to develop an Irish version.
- We recognised that we needed some support to ensure that the format of the resource is pedagogically sound, and engaging for users, so we formed a partnership with UCD School of Social Justice who agreed to peer review the resource before publishing.
- We reached out to educators working in the area of critical literacy in order to build up an initial database of recommended writers, film-makers and organisations that are producing accessible education material about the global economy.
- We deliberately reached out to a wide range of people to blog on the site. This was to ensure that our practice in developing the resource was in line with delivering inclusive development education. This means that the bloggers are a diverse mix of campaigners, academics, community workers etc, not just a group of ‘experts’ on the global economy.
- We invested a very significant amount of time in sourcing good quality reading and viewing material for the site. This represented a significant time commitment from our organisation.
- We reached out to a range of diverse education organisations before launching the resource in order to bring the launch of it to their attention, to invite them to critically engage with it and to give feedback, to form learning circles, and to use the comments section on the site as a route to sharing resources that they find useful.
Case Study: Involving ‘non experts’ in the discussion
Each unit invites a blogger to engage with the material and to respond to the material and to share their views on the theme of the unit eg: debt, feminist perspectives on the economy etc. We hope that this approach helps users to engage with another person’s perspective even if they are not in a learning circle.
We also sought to ensure that the bloggers represent a mix of people from diverse backgrounds. This is to reinforce the idea that we do not have to be ‘experts’ to engage in sharing our opinions on the global economy – we all have a right to be part of the debate.
Taking an explicitly justice-centred perspective
We have shared resources on the site that explicitly put justice for people and our planet at the centre of their perspectives. This is because Econowha? seeks to redress the highly imbalanced perspectives in our mainstream media and education system, which often fail to ‘ask why’ we live in such an unequal and unsustainable world.
Including local and global perspectives
It is impossible to learn meaningfully about poverty and inequality in countries of the global South without supporting learners to explore the role of global North countries and institutions in the problem. This is why the resource seeks to make strong links between learning about local and global issues of economic injustice. The resource encourages users to learn about the experience and impact of poverty and economic suffering in Ireland as well as in other parts of the world so that solidarity can be built between oppressed people everywhere.
What worked well
Ensuring that the resource addressed the 3 points raised above has ensured that there has been high interest and engagement with the resource as a progressive and justice centred learning tool.
We were surprised by the lack of availability of short, accessible economic justice resources online currently. It meant that we had to spend a significant amount if time sourcing material and checking if it was appropriate. We hope that users will help address this lack of a centralised place to post specifically economic justice material, by using the comment section of Econowha? to do so.
Did we succeed?
We don’t know yet! The resource is recently launched so we will judge its success by using the monitoring tools described below.
What ways did you measure whether you reached your goals?
We will measure our success or otherwise by: monitoring the numbers of users of the site; monitoring the quality of interaction in the comments section; monitoring the number of learning circles that are formed and how long they stay operational; paying attention to any feedback or dialogue on the website itself.
Econowha? can be found at www.econowha.ie