04 Oct 2013
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Massey MOOCs go live next week

By Rebecca Wood

Expertise in three of Massey University’s core disciplines – agriculture, emergency management and indigenous studies – will be available online when its first massive open online course (MOOC) goes 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.

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 will be offered from mid-October and the course on indigenous studies a month later. More online courses will follow next year.

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

For more than 50 years, Massey has offered distance education with about 250,000 people having studied by distance through the University. 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 is 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.”

The indigenous culture course, for example, will be offered in conjunction with the University of Tasmania, something Brown champions as an example of the collaborative relationships now possible in the new digital world.

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.

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