At the beginning of 2015, Chalmers University of Technology will start its first mooc – massive open online course – free of charge and accessible to anyone with a computer. The course will be on the super-material graphene, which has not been the subject for a mooc previously.
Starting in 2015, Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden will be a global disseminator of knowledge. The beginning of the year will mark the start of ChalmersX – the venture of Chalmers moocs on the platform edx.org.
Chalmers announces its membership in edx at the ongoing conference Edx Global Forum in Boston. Edx is the platform where Chalmers’ moocs will be accessible. Universities such as MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley, the University of Tokyo and many more offer their moocs on the same platform.
“This is a new and different way for us to take on the role of knowledge disseminator in our society“, says Maria Knutson Wedel, vice president for undergraduate and master’s education at Chalmers.
With a computer and an Internet connection, course participants all over the world can watch video lectures, take part in discussions, do assignments and take exams.
“Previously, we have primarily shared knowledge on a local and national level. The technology today enables global knowledge sharing – we can reach people who need the knowledge in question no matter where they are located in the world,“ says Maria Knutson Wedel.
The first ChalmersX mooc will be an introduction to the super-material graphene: Introduction to Graphene Science and Technology. The subject is at the forefront of research, and EU’s biggest research initiative ever – Graphene Flagship – is based at Chalmers.
The course is led by graphene researcher Jie Sun. He took the initiative to the mooc as he saw the need of large-scale education about graphene.
“I hope to give the participants of the course basic knowledge of graphene. At the end of the course, an engineer should be able to determine if graphene is suitable for the company’s products, and a student should be able to decide if the subject is of interest for continued studies”, says Jie Sun.
Moocs are a growing trend in higher education. There is a great deal of interest in the courses – each one typically attracts tens of thousands of participants.
Maria Knutson Wedel believes that moocs can be very useful as supplementary or continuing professional development for people who are already part of working life. She does not believe that the courses can completely replace a traditional campus education, however. Campus education are closely connected and designed to correspond to the expectations from industry, for example. This type of education also results in a degree and a title, something which companies consider when hiring.
“However, this probably depends in part on traditional thinking on the part of the people who do the hiring at companies. In the future, we may reach a point that knowledge, regardless of how it has been obtained, becomes more important than certificates and grades,“ says Maria Knutson Wedel.
The ChalmersX moocs will be specially adapted to their context – the recordings will not consist of traditional 45-minute lectures. The teachers who have developed the course have carefully analysed the concepts they want participants to come away with after the course. The content is then boiled down to short video clips of 5-7 minutes each.
The next mooc in line after the course on graphene will be on sustainability in everyday life, starting in May 2015.
More about: Moocs
Moocs, an abbreviation of massive open online courses, are online courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. The term mooc was coined in 2008. As opposed to traditional distance learning, moocs do not have any prerequisites for admission. Exams are conducted by machine and there are platforms on which participants can get in contact with each other and discuss. The courses do not generate higher education credits, but the participants do receive a certificate for completing the course.
Chalmers University of Technology conducts research and offers education in technology, science, shipping and architecture with a sustainable future as its global vision. Chalmers is well-known for providing an effective environment for innovation and has eight priority areas of international significance – Built Environment, Energy, Information and Communication Technology, Life Science, Materials Science, Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Production, and Transportation.
Graphene Flagship, an FET Flagship initiative by the European Commission, is coordinated by Chalmers. Situated in Gothenburg, Sweden, Chalmers has 11,000 full-time students and 3,000 employees.