Global learning networks
LMU introduces Massive Open Online Courses
Starting this summer, LMU Munich plans to make a range of academic courses available online to interested learners all over the world. With this step, LMU joins a group of internationally renowned universities that have begun to make use of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs, for short) to explore and expand new forms of collaborative learning, in partnership with the Coursera consortium. Coursera was founded at Stanford University, and numbers leading institutions such as Princeton and Columbia among its members.
MOOCs are at the forefront of a technological advance that utilizes many of the tools and strategies that have marked the rise of Web 2.0 – such as those developed by Social Media – specifically for educational purposes. “That learners from all cultures, age groups and educational backgrounds worldwide can follow online courses given by recognized experts, form their own networks, discuss problems and find answers to them, and so help each other to master course content, is a truly revolutionary idea,” says LMU President Bernd Huber. The opportunity to prepare and present its own courses online, in cooperation with the Coursera portal, gives LMU the chance to take an active part in shaping the future development of the technology, and to try out new formats for interactive learning, he added.
MOOCs are finding more and more fans. Barely a year after it was launched, the Coursera portal, which LMU has just joined, already has over 2.5 million registered users, and offers more than 200 courses in a broad spectrum of academic disciplines. Coursera’s founders, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, both of whom are computer specialists at Stanford University, are delighted with the prospect of working with LMU: “We are very pleased to welcome LMU, as a top European university, among our circle of partners. We look forward to the new courses, perspectives and knowledge that Munich will share with our students across the globe," Daphne Koller says.
Four eminent professors will get the ball rolling
To launch this latest venture, LMU plans to offer a set of four courses, each of which has been designed under the supervision of an established researcher. Tobias Kretschmer, Professor of Business Studies, will present a course that deals with the fields of Strategy, Technology and Organization. The course devised by Barbara Conradt, Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, sets out to answer the question of why cells die, and how one can study the scientific basis of the phenomenon. Humboldt Professors Stephan Hartmann and Hannes Leitgeb tackle an issue that is at the heart of current approaches to the philosophy of science. Finally, Donald Dingwell, Secretary-General of the European Research Council and holder of the Chair of Mineralogy and Petrology in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at LMU, has chosen a topic from the field of volcanology. The courses will be developed over the next few months, and will be accessible via the Coursera platform from summer 2013. However, registration for these courses is now open (see below).
Design and structure of MOOCs
The MOOCs, for which interested parties can now register via www.lmu.de/moocs, comprise video lectures, interactive exercises and regular online tests which allow participants to assess their own progress. In addition, participants can form networks via online discussion forums and help each other to master the content of their particular courses. The courses are designed to enable participants to learn at their own pace over a defined period of time, take an active part in the learning process, obtain feedback on their performance and test their grasp of the course content at regular intervals. This means that students can always keep track of how well they are doing.