Queensland Uni to join online course stampede

The University of Queensland has announced it will offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) in the next two years, following in the footsteps of the University of Melbourne.


According to UQ vice-chancellor Professor Deborah Terry, the university is keen to move toward the development of a major open online learning environment.


“The initiative is an integral component of the new UQ blueprint for technology-enhanced learning, recently released to staff,” Terry said in a statement.


“The initiative will create MOOCs for the world and a richer place-based learning experience for UQ students.”


A MOOC is a type of online course aimed at large-scale participation and open access via the web. Terry said UQ will open selected course content to the world.


Professor Phil Long, director of UQ’s Centre for Educational Innovation and Technology, said the centre is “exploring opportunities” to work with other institutions.


This could include the Office of Educational Innovation & Technology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


The aim of this is to see how campus-based students can simultaneously benefit and participate in richer learning experiences through online education.


Between one and two courses from each of UQ’s six faculties will be made accessible online in a MOOC format over the coming two years, although it’s unknown what those courses are.


“Opening up course content for participation broadly enables other Australians and interested learners from around the world to see the inherent value of the UQ advantage,” Long said.


“[It also highlights] the unique design and structure of courses in a research-intensive, learning-focused university curriculum.”


“Our primary interest, however, is exploring how providing this content online enables new opportunities for our on-campus learning environment.”


The news comes just a few days after the University of Melbourne announced it has partnered with US company Coursera, enabling it to offer free online courses.


Coursera, which describes itself as a social entrepreneurship company, was founded last year by Stanford University academics Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller.


The company partners with top universities around the world to offer free online courses, enabling “the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students”.


It has partnered with more than 30 universities around the world, including Stanford, Princeton and Brown, and now the University of Melbourne has been added to the list.


Seven free courses will go online next year, but the university expects to have about 10 courses available through Coursera by the end of 2013.


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