Ox­ford Univer­sity to launch first on­line ‘Mooc’ course

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Ox­ford Univer­sity has an­nounced its first “mas­sive open on­line course” - or so-called Mooc - in a part­ner­ship with a US on­line univer­sity net­work.

Th­ese free on­line cour­ses have grown in pop­u­lar­ity with hundreds of uni­ver­si­ties and mil­lions of stu­dents. But un­til now Ox­ford has not of­fered such Mooc cour­ses. It is go­ing to run an eco­nom­ics course part­nered with on­line plat­form edX, set up by Har­vard Univer­sity and Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy.

The emer­gence of Mooc cour­ses in re­cent years has been a ma­jor phe­nom­e­non in higher ed­u­ca­tion, par­tic­u­larly in the United States.

Their sup­port­ers ar­gued that putting cour­ses on­line would make them more ac­ces­si­ble and af­ford­able - while scep­tics doubted that teach­ing and the ex­change of ideas in sem­i­nars could be repli­cated on the in­ter­net.

They also warned of the high drop-out rate from Moocs and that stu­dents were un­likely to get a full de­gree.

Ox­ford has of­fered many re­sources on­line, in­clud­ing through the iTunes U ser­vice and also its depart­ment for con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion.

But un­til now it has not en­gaged in the type of Mooc cour­ses of­fered by the big on­line net­works, such as edX and Cours­era in the US and Fu­tureLearn in the UK.

Th­ese pro­vide free mini-cour­ses, which can be ac­cessed by stu­dents any­where in the world.

Ox­ford has now an­nounced that it will be­gin en­rolling stu­dents for a course start­ing in Fe­bru­ary 2017 called “From Poverty to Pros­per­ity: Un­der­stand­ing Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment“.

It will be part of the edX on­line plat­form, which has nine mil­lion reg­is­tered stu­dents and runs more than 900 on­line cour­ses from uni­ver­si­ties in­clud­ing Har­vard, MIT, Berke­ley in the US, Pek­ing in China and Sor­bonne in France as well as Ed­in­burgh and Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don in the UK.

The course will ex­am­ine the role that gov­ern­ments play in boost­ing eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and will be led by Sir Paul Col­lier, pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics and pub­lic pol­icy at the Blavat­nik School of Govern­ment.

Ngaire Woods, Blavat­nik’s dean, said the on­line course would be “an ef­fec­tive way to ex­pand ac­cess to knowl­edge be­yond the class­rooms of Ox­ford”.

Prof Woods said the school was ded­i­cated to im­prov­ing govern­ment and that de­pended on “bet­ter ed­u­cated pub­lic of­fi­cials, teach­ers, en­trepreneurs, jour­nal­ists and cit­i­zens”.

The head of the Cours­era on­line net­work, which has more than 20 mil­lion stu­dents, re­cently pre­dicted that within five years many top uni­ver­si­ties would be of­fer­ing fully ac­cred­ited un­der­grad­u­ate de­grees taught en­tirely on­line.

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