This page defines MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and describes why UNSW is engaging with this new learning format.

What is a MOOC? What is an OER?

A MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is a large-scale, open access course available on the Web. MOOCs are not content repositories but courses that enable active, interactive, connected learning.

An OER (Open Educational Resource) is a freely available educational resource used for teaching and learning, and does not usually constitute a course.

MOOCs take advantage of new and existing technologies to allow students to study interactively online.

Why is UNSW developing MOOCs?

As part of the Learning and Teaching Strategy 2014–2018, UNSW has agreed to develop a number of flagship MOOCs, so as to:

  • learn from the experience of developing and delivering MOOCs, and from collected MOOC data. This will further improve the quality of on-campus and blended learning programs/courses across all faculties at UNSW, and build institutional capacity for quality learning.
  • conduct research into effective learning and teaching by examining emerging practices within MOOCs
  • provide widespread support for remediation in key areas such as English, Maths and Science to current and prospective UNSW students
  • deliver non-accredited continuing professional education opportunities in defined areas
  • enable admission to UNSW by giving students opportunities to develop and demonstrate the necessary pre-requisite knowledge and skills to be admitted to a UNSW program or course
  • market and recruit students by showcasing high-quality UNSW programs or courses and teacher expertise, and to help develop students' understanding of the standards required to pursue a program or course at UNSW.

How is UNSW engaging with MOOCs?

UNSW has explored and continues to explore various MOOC platform providers, including:

UNSW and Coursera in brief

Coursera, and what it provides

UNSW as an institution has entered into a non-exclusive partnership with Coursera to develop and deliver MOOCs. Coursera is a for-profit company founded by Stanford University computer scientists Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng and currently operating with venture capital.

Coursera provides the platform, hosts course content and supports course operations and design. Coursera provides aggregated analytics to UNSW as part of the agreement and explores monetisation models on behalf of Coursera and its partners.

Contract requirements

The contract, in practical terms, requires all UNSW MOOCs to be developed within the project facilitated by the Learning and Teaching Unit (LTU). Faculties, schools and individuals cannot work independently with Coursera. The courses are project-managed by central UNSW staff with faculty developing and delivering each course, and assuming responsibility for pedagogic design and course quality.

UNSW’s contract with Coursera stipulates a number of acceptance, accessibility and quality assurance milestones before a course can be launched, and during course offerings.

Other benefits

Coursera and the other partner institutions openly exchange course ideas and there is vibrant discussion within the partner community forums.

What's in a MOOC? UNSW and the RASE course design model

RASE elements

UNSW uses the RASE model as a basis for course design. Our MOOCs are typically comprised of the following components:

  • Resources—crafted subject content, including readings, practical demonstrations, mini-lectures on video, video experiments
  • Activities—tasks and problems for participants to solve in engaging with and through content
  • Support—assistance in building learning communities, understanding and learning competencies
  • Evaluation—formative evaluation to monitor and improve learning, summative assessment activities that provide a basis for the certification of learning.