University of Derby introduces MOOCs

10 June 2015

Two Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been introduced at the University of Derby to benefit people wanting to learn about dementia and those who wish to enhance their digital reputation.

The two free online courses will start in July 2015 and have been developed by the University’s Academic Innovation Hub, supported by the University of Derby Online Learning (UDOL).

MOOCs are short, free courses run by major learning providers to share their knowledge of a particular academic topic or to help students develop a specific skill. 

‘Bridging the Dementia Divide’ is the first MOOC to be launched on July 13, in conjunction with UDOL and the University’s College of Health and Social Care. The MOOC is aimed at both family members who want to care for someone living with dementia or health and social care professionals.

An estimated 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia, and 670,000 people act as primary carers for them. Numbers are expected to double within 30 years as the population ages. Dementia costs the UK economy an estimated £26.3bn or £32,250 per person per year, comprising social care, health care and unpaid carers. While there is no cure for many forms of dementia, it is possible to improve lives and save costs.

Girl sat outside Kedleston Road

The second MOOC titled ‘Digital Me: Managing Your Digital Self’ has been developed with UDOL and the University’s Learning Enhancement Unit. The course will be launched on July 6 and is aimed at anyone wanting to improve or create a positive online reputation. 

This course will help individuals to develop relevant skills and knowledge to understand and analyse the quality of their digital footprints, harvest the “power of the web” and increase their ability to use technology to improve their professional and personal life. 

Julie Stone, Director of UDOL said: “As an online learning provider we are thrilled to announce our first two MOOCs and we hope they will provide knowledge to a wide range of people.

“As experts in online learning we hope our MOOCs will inspire learners to engage further in their educational opportunities and knowledge acquisition.  Our free courses cover subjects that we specialise in, making it easy for individuals to progress to their studies with us at undergraduate or postgraduate level.”

All MOOCs will be delivered through Canvas Network, the second largest provider of free online courses in the world. Canvas Network specialise in delivering MOOCs to learners all over the world, helping to break barriers to learning, efficiently, safely and responsibly. 

Munib Hadi, Head of the Innovation Hub at the University of Derby, added: “One of the primary reasons we undertook the MOOCs project was to break down the barriers to higher education and give a flavour of the high quality teaching on offer at UDOL. As part of our open education strategy, our courses have no prerequisite requirements.

“Even though they are free courses, University of Derby MOOCs have a gone through a similar quality review process as our paid for courses. This ensures our MOOC learners get a quality learning experience.

“Typical retention for MOOC is around 5%. At the University of Derby we believe the traditional methods of retention calculation are a bit obsolete in MOOCs context due to the free and drop in dropout nature of some of these courses. A great deal of learners who log on to MOOCs do learn but don’t have the time to complete a typical six to eight weeks course.

“With this in mind we are developing tools and mechanisms around our proposed MOOCs to record these micro learning achievements. As part of this approach our learners will be able to gain digital open badges even if they are completing part of the course. The free courses will include six units with universal Mozilla open badges awarded at the end of each unit which are recognised by the majority of employers and educational institutions around the world. This would interest learners who enrol on MOOCs to learn about specific aspects of a course but are not interested or don’t have time to complete the whole course.”