Friday, December 20, 2013

First Australian National University Open Online Courses

The Australian National University has opened enrolments for its first two edX Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on India and astrophysics. Students can "audit" the course for free, or pay $US50 for a Verified Certificate of Achievement.
  • Engaging India (ANU-INDIA1x) with Dr McComas Taylor, 15 April 2014:
    This course offers an overview of contemporary India and explores its role as one of the dominant economic and military powers of Asia. We begin with a discussion on India as a multilingual society.  The entire course will be available in both English and Hindi. ... Watch the Engaging India Video.
  • Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe, (ANU-ASTRO1x), with Nobel Laureate Professor Brian Schimdt, starts 25 March 2014 (): Despite spectacular recent progress, there is still a lot we don't know about our universe. We don't know why the Big Bang happened. We don't know what most of the universe is made of. We don't know whether there is life in space. We don't know how planets form, how black holes get so big, or where the first stars have gone. This course will take you through nine of the greatest unsolved problems of modern astrophysics. We can't promise you the answers, but we will explain what we do and don't know, and give you an up-to-date understanding of current research. This course is designed for people who would like to get a deeper understanding of these mysteries than that offered by popular science articles and shows. ... Whatch the astrophysics video.
The ANU has issued a call for expressions of interest to produce further MOOC courses. I am submitting a proposal to turn the award winning on-line course "ICT Sustainability" which I have been running at ANU since 2009 into a MOOC. My course notes are already available in an open access form online and the course already includes exercises for class discussion. I would need to add some audiovisual material and interactive quizzes. Also the method of conducting group discussions would need to be rethought to0 cope with thousands, rather than dozens of students:

Technology and Sustainability cMOOC

Computers and telecommunications have been a boon to industry and culture, but at a cost. A significant proportion of industrial pollution today is caused by making, running and scraping computers and smart phones. Learn about the problem and how you can help solve it. This is a "constructivist" cMOOC, with an emphasis on the students learning from each other, assisted by experts. The course is based on "ICT Sustainability" designed by award winning technology educator Tom Worthington and offered online at ANU since 2009.
The Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur,  Athabasca University Canada and the National Institute of Bank Management in India recently ran a successful cMOOC course on “Mobiles for Development” (which is reported to have gone well). Interesting, rather than a specialised MOOC software, they used the same Sakai open source Learning management System as used for conventional e-learning courses. Mt ICT Sustainability course is implemented in Moodle, which is similar to Sakai. Moodle and Sakai are usually used with courses having hundreds of students. It would be interesting to see if they scale to thousands or hundreds of thousands of students.
ps: For a sceptical overview of MOOCs I recommend Sir John Daniel's "Making Sense of MOOCs: Musings in a Maze of Myth, Paradox and Possibility" (2012).

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