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Date [ 2013-02-24, 10:55 ]

(Singapore=Koreanpress)  by Benjamin Kim = The National University of Singapore (NUS) will be the first university on the island to offer the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).  MOOCs are a recent and growing phenomenon in distance education. Here participating universities offer some of their courses for free online.


 It is unique in the sense that it is, as its name implies, “massive.”  This refers to the huge number of students taking the courses for two main reasons. One, easy access as the courses are conducted via the Internet. Second, and perhaps the most important draw, it is free.


NUS is offering two such courses, for a start, beginning from January next year, in partnership with Coursera, a fast-growing MOOC provider. The  first course, which will run for eight weeks, is under the NUS Centre for Quantum Technologies, where students will learn about the “randomness” concept and its usefulness. The second, is a six-week course offered by the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, teaching classical musical composition.


Coursera was started by Stanford computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller in April last year, To date, Coursera has 2.8 million registered students and has 1.4 million course enrolments each month. The company has announced partnerships with 29 new universities globally, giving access to the courses offered by a total of 62 institutions of higher learning. Other renowned universities linked to MOOCs are Stanford, Brown, Harvard, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


NUS Provost and Deputy President (Academic Affairs), Tan Eng Chye felt that “the availability of academic content on an open online platform will accelerate knowledge sharing in higher education globally. More students can now have access to, and benefit from, NUS’ educational offerings.”.


A NUS spokesperson expressed the university’s wish to offer more courses in the future and added that it is keen to explore such options and plans. Probably,  two or three courses on Coursera will come online every year.


The move by NUS, has two other local universities thinking of jumping on the bandwagon. Nanyang Technological University and the Singapore Management University are also exploring the possibility of offering their courses via MOOC providers. A time frame has still to be set by these two universities.


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