Teaching & Learning


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) "offer a middle ground for teaching and learning between the highly organised and structured classroom environment and the chaotic open web of fragmented information".(George Siemens, 2013)

MOOC Poster

MOOCs have been said to integrate "the connectivity of social networking, the facilitation of an acknowledged expert in a field of study, and a collection of freely accessible online resources. Perhaps most importantly, however, a MOOC builds on the active engagement of several hundred to several thousand "students" who self-organize their participation according to learning goals, prior knowledge and skills, and common interests. Although it may share in some of the conventions of an ordinary course, such as a predefined timeline and weekly topics for consideration, a MOOC generally carries no fees, no prerequisites other than Internet access and interest, no predefined expectations for participation, and no formal accreditation."(2010). The MOOC model for digital practice.

At an elementary level MOOCs are:

  • Massive, in relation to the number of students that can participate at any one time. They are scalable and can involve hundreds or thousands of students. The concept of "massive" may extend beyond quantitative measures of student numbers and can be applied to course impact.
  • Open, in that they are freely accessible. However there is a great diversity as to the openness of course resources. Some for-profit enterprises like Coursera deliver MOOCs with content that is not openly licenced. That is, the content of the MOOC can be accessed for free without fee for the purpose of undertaking the MOOC, but they cannot necessarily be reused outside the MOOC.
  • Online, in that all learning activities, content and engagement occurs online.
  • Courses. They have a start and finish time. A MOOC has some structure and its content is sequenced.

Further information about MOOCs can be found on the Wikipedia entry for MOOCs.

MOOCs created by the University of Tasmania

The first University of Tasmania MOOC, called Understanding Dementia, is being delivered on the Desire2Learn platform and has attracted some 120,000 enrolments in six offerings. The Preventing Dementia MOOC has also been offered since 2016. The University is seeking to develop more MOOCs in areas of specialisation or strategic priority. University staff may apply to the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students and Education) to obtain endorsement for the development of open access courses. Staff can apply via the Developing the Business of Learning and Teaching online resource, which includes the application form. The form requires applicants to write a 500-word concept, a unique selling point, and address the criteria outlined in the guidelines. Staff must have the support of their respective School, Faculty, Institute or Centre and understand that developing a MOOC is resource intensive.

The post-traditional course development lifecycle consists of four stages: Proposal and case, Design, Delivery, and Evaluation

Responsibilities of the course development lifecycle

The responsibility of the Faculty, Institute or Centre:

  • All aspects of the design (and implementation of that design).
  • The content delivery, marketing and student support during delivery.
  • Course data analysis and review.

Information Technology Services (ITS):

  • Provision and servicing of supported learning systems.

Support is available

The Tasmanian Institute of Learning and Teaching (TILT) can support you in the following ways:

  • Advice about developing a business case
  • Consultation on course/content planning, design and development
  • Consultation on Intellectual Property (Copyright)
  • Quality Review
  • Consultation on platform suitability
  • Potential provision of learning data