Friday, 23 August 2013

‘Current Learning and Teaching with Technology Issues – have your say’

Online learning: MOOCS offer a myriad of new opportunities

 Online learning is a way for institutions to provide accessible and equitable learning experiences, as well as offering a student-centric choice of learning platforms and the ability to easily engage in transnational education. This applies to Australian students looking outward as well as International students looking towards the Australian education market.

Supporting online education to flourish requires institution-wide collaboration across divisional boundaries, including between Internet infrastructure operators, University IT Services departments, Teaching and Learning professionals and university contract and marketing staff. 

Massive Open Online Courseware (MOOC)s have grown in profile as one means of providing online education with more than 6.5 million students having enrolled in over 800 free classes produced by about 200 universities from around the globe in little over the year (Gallagher, 2013, p.1). On the 30th July 2013, two Australian universities (UNSW and UWS) formally joined Coursera and a new report titled Disruptive Education: Technology-Enabled Universities by Sean Gallagher, COO, United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney and Geoffrey Garrett, Dean, Australian School of Business, UNSW Australia was published (see

There’s no denying it, the fascination with MOOCs is in full swing around the globe.
What are your views on the MOOC phenomenon?  A series of questions will be posed over coming week and the NATA team and I would value your thoughts and engagement. Responses to questions will be summarized, with the aim of providing our community with insights drawn from all respondents that we can share, learn and benefit from.

James Sankar works for AARNet (Australia’s Academic Research and Education Network), he is responsible for AARNet’s Enterprise Services consulting service assisting University IT Services teams to realize the value of timely services for learning and teaching and research.  James is also a member of The Network of Australasian Tertiary Associations (NATA) whose mission is to improve engagement and practice through network leadership.

Week 1 Question:      
MOOCs – Are you involved in the design and/or delivery of a MOOC and how do you feel about it as an effective “more than just content” learning tool?


  1. Hi James
    I just noticed this article in the September 3rd edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education and I thought it might be something you'd like to reflect on. It seems that not everyone is enamoured with MOOCs!

  2. Hi Gordon, thanks for sharing, I agree, there are both camps with different opinions and perspectives on opportunity and impact. Universities will I believe need to better understand the threat/opportunity and I suspect the balance will be on picking winners and resourcing them and to be able to turn the MOOC experience into a new revenue stream for University value adds that can motivate, train, support and share funds back to the academics and their support teams. It is difficult area to navigate for all universities as the area is new and rapidly moving. Any insights from those actively involved in MOOC discussions and actual experience would be greatly appreciated.

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  4. Here' a counter argument to A MOOC Star defects from Western Australia! See which shows how MOOC can be transformative too.

  5. Like most technology-enhanced learning initiatives the good and the bad co-exisit. There are a number of positive dimensions to the MOOC movement, such as getting us (and senior university leaders) talking more about the potential of online learning. On the other hand, the following article makes good reading in terms of the underlying inequality of MOOCs. See

    Mark Brown

  6. Thanks Mark for your contribution here, it is early days for this form of online learning and I do sense that there a lot of "finding your way" going on. Gaining input from our community is important to shape the direction in ways that we can enable win-wins for staff, students and university sustainability as opposed to quoting others overseas who may operate under different modes of operation and funding.