Adelaidean - News from the University of Adelaide The University of Adelaide Australia
Winter 2014 Issue
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Empowering learning the MOOC way

The University of Adelaide has taken the next step in its journey to deliver unique student learning experiences by becoming a member of the international edX group.

Adelaide has joined an elite network of the world's leading universities as it moves to create a new flexible learning environment which embraces the latest in online delivery and small group discovery.

The University has started work on at least four Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as a member of edX, an international consortium which is driving new directions in education delivery using the latest technologies and targeted content.

Professor Pascale Quester, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Academic), says MOOCs will be the catalyst for teachers to rethink their course material to enhance the student experience.

"We're in the process of identifying topics for our first MOOC courses which will be developed over the next 12 months," says Professor Quester. "A small team will be going to Boston in September for technical training in relation to the edX platform underpinning our MOOCs and then we'll start in earnest."

MOOC development will involve teachers rethinking course content and delivery, using media techniques such as video segments and animation to meet the needs of a broader audience.

"It really focuses the mind because with a MOOC there is only a limited amount of time for teachers to get their message across," she says.

"This is all about learning outcomes not cramming in content. We're jumping into a future where lectures are no longer the most important component of a course."

Using some MOOC learning to enhance the University's on-campus teaching will allow students to acquaint themselves with course content ahead of class, while freeing up time for more face-to-face interaction with teachers. This is a key part of the University's Beacon of Enlightenment strategic plan targeting small group discovery.

Professor Quester envisages each MOOC will last five to seven weeks and will have multiple uses. In addition to forming part of normal course material for degrees, the free online content will also be accessible by anyone wanting to further their education, including those in remote areas or developing countries.

"It's also a wonderful way of helping our alumni to remain attached and involved with the University. That's what universities are all about - a community of learners expanding the boundaries of knowledge."

As a member of edX, the University of Adelaide is joining many other leading universities and organisations, including Harvard, MIT, the University of Tokyo and UC Berkeley.

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