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Southampton MOOCs reach 100,000 enrolments

Published: 
6 October 2014

The University of Southampton has reached a milestone of 100,000 enrolments on its Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCS.

Since launching its first MOOC on web science in November last year, the University has pioneered free interactive courses on oceanography, archaeology and research skills for A Level students.

The enrolment milestone was reached as learners signed up for new courses in maritime archaeology, digital marketing and language learning, starting on the 6 October, 13 October and 17 November respectively. The University now has seven MOOCs running in total, many of them for the second or third time.

Unlike other types of online learning, MOOCs provide real-time forums, allowing participants to interact with one another, debate issues and build an online community around areas of common interest. In addition, PhD researchers and alumni from the university act as online mentors, facilitating the learning experience of participants.

Courses vary from three to eight weeks in length and require up to four hours of study per week. Participants work through learning materials, such as videos, activities and multiple-choice tests. Some courses also feature peer reviews, meaning learners have the opportunity to share each other’s work and mark it against set criteria.

For participants, the benefits of taking part in a MOOC are clear; they get an engaging educational experience that develops new skills and understanding. In addition, there is no cost, no travel and the timing is flexible so that they can fit study in around their work and other activities.

MOOCs are accessible to anyone in the world and students from over 180 countries have taken the University of Southampton courses.

The Southampton MOOCs are delivered by FutureLearn, a company set up by the Open University, which offers MOOCs from many of the UK’s top universities, including Southampton.

“It is really exciting to interact with a community of enthusiastic learners from around the world, and to explore the ways in which our courses on campus can be enhanced by online social learning,” says Lisa Harris, Educator on the Digital Marketing and Web Science MOOCs. “It’s also interesting to investigate the research potential of drawing upon the collective experience and enthusiasm for topics covered in the MOOCs, from learners all around the world, in real time.”

Alex Hovden, a Physics Undergraduate Student at Southampton, takes part in the MOOCs to supplement his learning at university. He says: “As a student I’m always looking for new ways to expand my knowledge to broaden my career prospects. The MOOCs that the University has run through FutureLearn have enabled me to do just that and also provide a straightforward and flexible way of learning, which fits in around my many other commitments.”

 

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