A pioneering free online learning initiative by IT Sligo is massively living up to its name just days before it hits the worldwide web.
The Institute of Technology’s launch of a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) next Monday (November 4th) adds a new dimension to the portfolio of internet-based courses provided for global audiences by higher education institutions here.
It is the first in Ireland to blend a MOOC, the fast growing internet-based learning revolution, with ‘Lean Sigma Quality’, a concept vital for industry, services and the public sector which focuses on the eradication of wasteful ways of operating, such as needless duplication.
The MOOC is the latest innovation by IT Sligo’s Centre for Online Learning, which last year won the Taoiseach’s Public Service Excellence Award.
Usually, individual courses delivered by traditional online means attract scores or even hundreds of off-campus students.
Already though, the MOOC in Lean Sigma Quality has easily trumped that uptake level, with upwards on 2,000 students registering.
Professor Terri Scott, President of IT Sligo, said: “This is a tremendously exciting development for IT Sligo. While Massive Online Open Courses are hugely popular in the US and Canada, they are still embryonic here. We are proud to be an Irish MOOC leader. It will enable our Institute to engage more closely with the up-skilling needs of modern industry nationally and internationally.”
MOOCs, which require no formal course entry qualifications, provide high level personal professional development. They are widely used by world-leading American universities such as Harvard, Stanford, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
IT Sligo’s six-week MOOC in Lean Sigma Quality will be delivered by Brian Coll and Dr John Donovan, from the School of Engineering & Design. They lecture on the Institute’s online BSc and MSc in Quality programmes. The MOOC will be accessible by anyone across the world who has broadband access and registers before the launch date.
Brian Coll said: “This Lean Sigma Quality class is normally delivered online to approximately 50 students per year. With 2,000 enrolled on the MOOC, it would take 40 years to reach the same number of students.”
MOOC students are not awarded a college qualification but receive a certificate of completion. Many employers encourage staff to take these courses as they deem them both accessible and helpful in training and up-skilling.
Professor Scott said: “In our MOOC in Lean Sigma Quality, IT Sligo is again demonstrating its determination to grasp new opportunities and push the boundaries of higher education.
“We are committed to introducing more MOOCs which will open up new educational horizons for those who might never previously have even dreamt of taking a higher education course.”
Education commentators predict that MOOCs, while not replacing on-campus degree programmes, will transform many aspects of teaching and study, not just in how and where students take courses but also by providing more people with more choice and opportunity to learn in their own time.
Brian Mulligan, Online Learning Programme Manager, said: “We see more MOOCs definitely featuring as part of our portfolio of online learning for the future. As new study programmes come on stream, we could consider doing shorter sampler-type courses, so as to gauge the uptake level of interest for other online programmes.”
See the Launch video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwEql05abb0&feature=youtu.be
Photo caption-“Lecturer Brian Coll prepares for the launch of IT Sligo’s first MOOC”.