Free online learning venture to go live next week

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Professor Mark Brown

Massey will offer expertise in three of its core disciplines of Agriculture, Emergency Management and Māori Studies when its first open online courses go live next week.

The University has teamed up with the free online learning platform Open2Study, led by Open Universities Australia (OUA), to offer a suite of online courses.

The venture will be formally launched at a function in the Museum Building of Massey’s Wellington campus from 5.30pm on Monday October 7.

The director of Massey’s National Centre for Teaching and Learning, Professor Mark Brown, says the University’s adoption of Massive Open Online Courses, known as MOOCs, is a “logical extension” of its distance learning programmes and evidence of Massey’s commitment to innovation in teaching and learning.

OUA chief executive Paul Wappett agreed the decision to join Open2Study was significant for Massey.

“Its three MOOC courses will provide a combination of high-level academic learning and a world-class online student experience after having worked very closely with Australia’s leader in online learning Open Universities Australia.”

It’s a view endorsed by Professor Grāinne Conole, the director of the Institute of Learning Innovation at the University of Leicester, a guest speaker at the launch, who recognises Massey as a leading pioneer in online and blended learning.

Massey’s online course Agriculture and the world we live in helps to showcase New Zealand’s considerable expertise in this area and will be offered online from October 7. The course in Emergency Management is offered from mid October and the course on Māori Studies a month later. More online courses will follow next year.

For more than 50 years Massey has offered distance education with about 250,000 people having studied by distance through the University, and Professor Brown says the growth of open online learning represented an exciting development in tertiary studies.

“These courses are confirmation that Massey University is a modern digital-era university with world-class expertise that can be shared throughout the world.”

MOOCs offer other benefits too, he says, by giving prospective students an opportunity to explore a discipline before deciding on a course of study and to understand what it’s like to be an online learner. The Massey open courses will also raise the university’s profile among prospective international students and was a hallmark of innovation - one of the university’s core platforms.

“Massey has taken the view that if we’re not exploring and innovating within the MOOC framework, then we’re not really in a position to understand what the opportunities are,” Professor Brown says.

In the case of the indigenous culture course, it would be offered in conjunction with the University of Tasmania, something Professor Brown champions as an example of the collaborative relationships now possible in the new digital world.

Other well-known Australian universities that have already joined Open2Study include Curtin, Macquarie and RMIT.

Massey’s Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey says it was an easy decision to partner with Open2Study.

“It will help create a high-quality pathway to learning that fits well with Massey’s vision of being New Zealand’s defining university and world leader in higher education and scholarship; and our goals of internationalisation and providing an exceptional and distinctive learning experience for all students.”

Under the Open2Study platform, participants are offered a mix of study tools including six-to-eight-minute videos, animations, simulations and quizzes, all designed using high production values. Enrolling can be completed in less than 30 seconds, with courses completed in about four weeks.

The launch event is being webcast live here.

More information about Open2Study is here.

 

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