By Ann M. Koenig, AACRAO International Education Services
Both Australia and New Zealand have launched free online learning platforms this year, offering massive open online courses (MOOCs) to anyone with an Internet connection and an interest in learning.
Open Universities Australia’s platform Open2Study debuted in April with an offering of ten free online four-week courses. After its first month of operation, Open2Study reported a relatively high course completion rate of 25%. By the end of October, it had marked a milestone of 100,000 enrollments, representing students from more than 180 countries. At this point 60% of its enrollment is made up of students from the United States, India, the United Kingdom, Spain and Canada. Adding new subjects every month, Open2Study expects to be offering 50 free subjects by the end of this year. Academic credit for MOOC learning can be sought through partner academic institutions, which include several Australian tertiary institutions and Massey University in New Zealand.
On November 1, the Open Educational Resource (OER) University was launched by a New Zealand group, a project of the UNESCO-Commonwealth of Learning OER Chair network. The OER University is offering full courses lasting 10 to 15 weeks and “mOOCs”, or micro-open online courses, of two to three weeks’ duration. Distance education is a familiar learning mode in New Zealand, where there is a well-developed system of assessment of prior learning to gain academic credit at tertiary institutions, and OER University courses could be used in this way. OER University partner and sponsor institutions are located in Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the United States, and the United Kingdom, although enrollment is not limited to students from these institutions. The project’s founding partner is Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand, which houses the Open Education Resource Foundation.