Open access education at the University of Tasmania: MOOCs and beyond
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AbstractMassive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have certainly changed the higher education landscape around the world. They have opened up opportunities for universities to reconsider quality of education offerings, their traditional business models and award systems for degrees. For many universities, MOOCs have also challenged University funding models, resources and strategic priorities in learning and teaching. The University of Tasmania (UTAS) is the single university in the state of Tasmania, Australia balancing a strong research tradition with the need for a comprehensive course offering to meet the needs of Tasmania. The promise of MOOCs and Open Educational Practices more generally has been recognised by UTAS as a way to meet key institutional priorities and purposes such as enhancing reputation and brand, increasing enrolments, contributing to areas of social and community need and enhancing curriculum offerings. To realise these benefits deep, systematic and institution-wide consideration was required. This was to address the disruptive elements of open courses, but more fundamentally, to contemplate the role of technology enhanced learning in delivering the UTAS curriculum. Central to the development of the strategy was the writing of a White Paper on Technology Enhanced Learning and Teaching (Brown et al., 2013) that provides a five-year vision for the university. The White Paper drew on the literature, international practice and stakeholder consultation both within and beyond the university. To provide a foundation, the White Paper proposed a model of blended learning (the UTAS Blended Learning Model) to establish a shared understanding of the role of technology in unit and course design. At its heart, however, is an examination that UTAS can use technology to extend its influence and contributions to learning and teaching locally, nationally and internationally through Open Educational Practices (OEP). This paper outlines the research and consultation that led to the development of the UTAS OEP strategy, and the processes that have been implemented for adoption of OEP, including a systematically adopted business model for MOOCs. Although only in the early stages of enactment, UTAS has three successful MOOCs and an active Learning Object Repository. Importantly, the strategy is also positively influencing adoption of technology enhanced learning in traditional courses. The implications of the new direction in terms of institutional change and professional development of staff will also be discussed.
TypeNon Refereed Conference Paper