Category Archives: Online Courses

Moocing-around a bit more

Well, we’ve finally been released out of lockdown, but I still had a Future Learn course that I had enrolled in that I wanted to finish. It’s called History of Slavery in the British Caribbean, and it was presented by both the University of the West Indies and the University of Glasgow (fitting, because there were many Scottish plantation owners). It was very good. I looked at slavery in the British Caribbean – particularly in British Guiana – for my thesis, and I learned a lot from the course. The course was produced in 2020 so it was brought right up to date with the recent Windrush scandal in the UK, Black Lives Matter and COVID. I hadn’t thought about the significance of language: ‘enslaved’ rather than ‘slave’. Well worth doing

And speaking of slavery, I also watched a webinar produced by the History Council of South Australia called Pre- and Early-Colonial South Australia’s Slavery Connections. There were three speakers: Cameron Coventry, Philip Jones (author of Ochre and Rust, which I must read some day) and librarian Beth Robertson who’ wrote the book’ on Oral History and has been undertaking her own family history. It hadn’t occurred to me that the compensation payments for slave-holders (not the slaves, mind you, only their former owners) hit the pockets of British investors at much the same time as South Australia was established. The speakers concentrated on British MP Raikes Currey, who provided much of the funding behind the South Australian Company from his family slaveholdings; George Fife Angas whose family traded in mahogany from British Honduras and who agitated for the release of indigenous enslaved in Honduras but not enslaved Africans; and Edward Stirling, born on a Jamaican slave plantation to a woman of culture, even though it was not spoken of. It will be online at some stage, I believe.

One of the good things about lockdown is that I have ‘attended’ many more webinars, book launches, discussions etc. than I would have normally. I hope that an online ‘presence’ at such events remains a possibility in the future.

MOOCing around during lockdown

We’ve been locked down here in Melbourne for fifteen weeks, which in anyone’s language is a bloody long time. Not one for jigsaw puzzles, and already a regular bread baker, I turned instead to a few online courses, mostly through FutureLearn. I must confess that I’m pretty slack. I rarely engage in the discussions, and I never do the assessments.

Since the lockdown, I have completed Radical Spirituality: The Early History of the Quakers, which is no longer running. It was run jointly by Lancaster University & Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre and it is a historical examination of the birth of Quakerism in the 1650s in England, the role of George Fox and Margaret Fell, and the rather peripatetic nature of Quakerism in its early days.

I also did a course called The Scottish Highland Clans: Origins, Decline and Transformation but to be honest, I can’t remember whether than was this year or last year…a COVID shutdown does that, I guess. It ran from the University of Glasgow over a period of three weeks. You can join it at any time.

And just now, I have finished Empire, run through the University of Exeter. It was a six week course, and the University of Exeter also runs the Imperial and Global Forum online, so there is an ongoing presence of the historians involved in the course. The course concentrates on the British Empire in particular, and as a citizen of a ‘colonized’ country, it was interesting to see empire from the other end. The course has run several times, and at the end of the first iteration that created ‘summing up’ videos to review the comments left by students. Although the comments between one course and another are probably much the same, you did feel a bit recycled. Having read a couple of books about British imperialism in India recently, I really enjoyed the discussion of Mary Curzon’s Peacock Dress.

Next stop is a course on Slavery in the British Caribbean, which I have read about as part of my thesis. It will be interesting to look at it in a more structured way. So, ever onwards……