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A reflection on our most recent course: Identifying, Monitoring and Responding to Hate Crimes

By Joanna Perry, Melissa Sonnino and Daniel Heller

This blog reflects on our experience of running the Facing Facts Online course, Identifying, Monitoring and Responding to Hate Crimes between October 24th and December 14th, 2022.

First, we give an overview of the course, followed by evaluation data from our learners. The final section reflects on what we can take away from this experience. 

Course overview 

As with previous courses, we had the following learning objectives: 

  • Understand the hate crime concept;
  • Identify and monitor the most common forms of hate crime and their impact on victims and communities;
  • Explore how to use monitoring and quantitative data to advocate and secure improved safety, support and justice for victims and communities.

To meet these learning outcomes, the course was structured across three modules, which ran on a weekly basis along with live sessions. Content was designed to encompass a range of activities to be undertaken at any time during each scheduled week, including video lectures, case studies, quizzes, readings, and discussion forums. This was supported by live weekly tutorials, during which participants were encouraged to share their reflections and questions about the content they had covered that week. Topic-based discussion forums also supported regular peer to peer and peer to tutor interaction. In response to a specific request from several participants, a session was held with external experts about setting up data sharing agreements and on cooperation between CSOs and public authorities. The criteria for obtaining a certificate of completion included completing set activities, taking part in at least one discussion forum per week and in one tutorial session per week. Out of 25 participants, 18 successfully completed the course resulting in a completion rate of 72%, which is a good complete rate. At the end of the course (and after several reminders!) 12 participants completed an anonymous evaluation form. 

What our learners told us

A significant majority of respondents reported that the course was well organised (75% strongly agree; 8.3% agree), and that the content was well balanced, and organised in a manner that helped them understand underlying concepts (83.4% strongly agree; 8.3% agree). A smaller percentage ‘strongly agreed’ that the course workload was appropriate (strongly agree 66.7%, agree 33.3%).

Click on the text below to see comments of participants.

Role of Tutors

The majority of respondents agreed that the tutors played an important role in facilitating their understanding of the course content (75% strongly agree; 16.7% agree) and encouraged their participation in the course (75% strongly agree; 16.7% agree). The majority of respondents also reported that they felt confident to engage with their trainers and peers (75% strongly agree, 16.7% agree).

Learners expressed a relatively high level of confidence to engage in the live tutorials, held over Zoom (66.67% strongly agree, 16.67 agree). A comparatively lower level of confidence was expressed with regard to engaging in the discussion forums, with 58.3% responding ‘strongly agree’ with the statement ‘I felt confident to engage in the discussion forums’, 25% responded ‘somewhat agree’ and 8.3% responded ‘agree’. This is perhaps understandable because it can take more time, knowledge and confidence to compile a written answer on a technical issue to do with hate crime for review by your peers and tutors than simply making a verbal point in a tutorial, for example. This suggests that in future courses, tutors could provide more support and encouragement regarding discussion forum participation.

Click on the text below to see comments of participants.

General feedback on the course

We were really pleased with the feedback that a high percentage of learners strongly agreed with the statement ‘this course gave me confidence to do more advanced work in the field of hate crime’ (83.3% strongly agree, 8.33% agree). Finally, 90,9% agreed that they would recommend following this course to other people. 

Click on the text below to see comments of participants.

Reflections for the future

There are several similarities between the evaluative feedback from this and previous cohorts. This includes positive feedback regarding the quality and detail of course materials as well as interaction in weekly tutorials. Similarly, there were some technical problems, and mixed views about the necessary level of specificity in course materials, with some appreciating the level of detail and others finding it overwhelming. 

In a new, and welcome, development, the proportion of participants (almost 50%) coming from a public authority background was significantly larger than previous cohorts. This led to useful conversations across public authority and CSO ‘boundaries’ during the course.  It also raises important questions about the similarities and differences across the needs and motivations of our diverse learners in the context of online learning, which are central to research that we plan to commission later this year

Further, we had two ‘national clusters’. In other words, there were several participants from the same country, but in different roles (e.g. civil society, equality body and public authority), which allowed a deeper national focus. We catered to this configuration by assigning participants from the same country to the same small tutorial groups, to allow them to discuss what steps might be taken together at the national level. In the future we should consider offering our highly interactive methods which allow national partners to co-create national plans of action by considering the current context and joint actions for improvement. This is an approach that we have taken in several countries, including India, which is reviewed in a recently published piece.  

In response to specific requests from our participants, we were particularly pleased to be able to arrange an extra session on data sharing agreements with partners from the United Kingdom who have many years of experience in this area. Finally, we ran the course during an exceptionally busy time of the year for the majority of participants, several participants asked for extensions, which we allowed for everyone. This suggests that we might choose a quieter time in the year for our next course! This learning and reflection will feed into our planned research on the needs of our online learning community, which we explore in our new policy paper, Understanding and meeting the needs and motivations of online learners for tackling hate crime and hate speech.

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