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The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

PolyU drives emerging trend in Massive Open Online Course

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 December, 2017, 3:36pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 December, 2017, 12:47pm

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In this digital era, the rise of Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) opens up a new mode of learning combining social networking and multimedia, which allows tens of millions of learners worldwide to have free access to quality education. Embracing this growing trend in online learning, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has been actively developing MOOC in recent years, aiming to strengthen the internationalization of the University, as well as to enhance the teaching and learning experiences.

Professor Chetwyn Chan, PolyU’s Associate Vice President for Learning and Teaching, said, “PolyU is among the first few universities in Hong Kong to offer MOOC. The MOOC initiative has been instrumental in raising the reputation of PolyU both internationally and locally.”

Internationalization as the key objective

PolyU has long recognized the need for its students and faculty members to acquire a global perspective. Professor Chan emphasized that the major benefit brought by the MOOC initiative is to create the “internationalization at home” effect among the students and the teachers. He highlighted that all of PolyU’s MOOCs must be part of the syllabus of subjects currently taken by on-campus students so that PolyU students can learn and share with thousands of global learners under a truly global learning environment.

On the other hand, the development of MOOCs has been a change agent at PolyU, inspiring teachers to seek collaboration with overseas institutions in offering joint courses and use MOOCs to support flipped classroom and active learning. Professor Chan said, “By offering MOOC to a multi-cultural audience of diverse ages, abilities and backgrounds, our teaching staff can gain exposure to new teaching pedagogies and deliver truly global teaching materials that potentially benefit our students on campus.”

Accelerating efforts in MOOC

In support of the MOOC development, PolyU has set up the Advisory Committee on e-Learning to facilitate the development of online learning and inspire more teaching staff to join the MOOC initiative. In a bid to offer professional and appealing MOOCs, the University invested a million dollars in setting up a dedicated studio with technical expertise to produce highly interactive multimedia content. Since 2015, PolyU has launched seven MOOCs, including a first of its kind MicroMasters programmes in Asia, which have attracted more than 230,000 global learners from 175 countries and regions including the United States, Europe, Africa, India and the Chinese mainland. The Human Anatomy MOOC is among the most popular course which enrollment of up to 75,000 learners has set a new record of the same kind in Asia.

Earlier this year (2017), the School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) of PolyU launched MicroMasters Programmes in International Hospitality Management, which is the latest innovation in higher education. Learners can combine their MicroMasters Credential with on-campus work at PolyU to earn a Master’s of International Hospitality Management. Learners who successfully earn the MicroMasters credentials will be eligible to apply for the SHTM's Master of Science in International Hospitality Management programme. Professor Chan supplemented that of the 30,000 learners taking this MicroMasters Programme, around 200 had successfully qualified for the course certificate. To attract top MOOC learners overseas, five additional places will be provided on top of the 45 intake quota for the next academic year.

PolyU’s efforts in launching innovative MOOC were recognized with an international award. This year (2017), the MOOC titled Knowledge Management and Big Data in Business won a Silver Award, in the Best Online Learning Model category in Australia’s LearnX Impact Awards competition in recognition of the quality of the pedagogical approaches used in the MOOC.

Driving the future trend through enhanced collaboration with edX

PolyU first launched the MOOCs in 2015 on edX, one of the world’s largest online learning platforms co-founded by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Further extending its global network, PolyU has recently enhanced the collaboration with edX to the next level by joining edX University Advisory Board as a contributing charter member. The enhanced collaboration offers PolyU privileges with unlimited capacity of launching MOOCs, which helps substantiate its leadership position in MOOC development in Asia and beyond. A signing ceremony was held earlier to mark this significant milestone.

Professor Chan said, “As the only institution from Asia joining the edX University Advisory Board, PolyU has a key role to play in providing insights from Asian perspective and influencing the management of edX. I am sure PolyU’s involvement will benefit the Asian audience with more international exposure and global outreach to the international academic organizations.”

Future plan

In addition to the existing MOOCs, PolyU plans to roll out at least four more courses next year in the subject areas such as information literacy, older population needs, fashion design, design thinking and engineering.

Collaboration with overseas universities for developing joint MOOCs is in the pipeline. They include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the US, Delft University of Technology in Netherlands, and Kyoto University in Japan. PolyU will also invite renowned MOOC team to co-teach to provide high-quality online education for benefiting the global learning community.

Over the next ten years, PolyU aims to run at least 20 MOOCs a year, as well as five more MicroMasters courses, five professional certificate courses, and two full-time online learning programmes.

PolyU’s MOOC page on edX: