The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) has launched the first batch of free online courses as part of a series of massive open online courses (MooCs) on the edX platform that will be launched over the next three years to bolster post-school education.
The first three MooCs, namely System Dynamics for Health Sciences, Research Methods: An Engineering Approach and Results-based Project Management: Monitoring and Evaluation, would be launched on August 3, September 7 and October 5 respectively.
“There is no doubt that there is a dire need for more places at South African universities and for access to quality post-school training. Wits is proud to be the first African university on the edX platform, where we offer free online courses [that are] unique to South Africa,” commented Wits Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic Professor Andrew Crouch.
Over the next three years, Wits would work to release a specially-developed suite of online course offerings, including short online courses and, eventually, entirely online degree programmes, to enhance access to higher education.
“We envisage that the capacity and systems we have developed will inform and strengthen future institutional online course development, and other blended learning, initiatives,” added Wits Centre for Learning, Teaching and Development director and WitsX head Associate Professor Christine Woods.
The MooCs on offer were free; however, students wanting a certificate of completion would need to fork out $49, or R720 at the current exchange rate.
The System Dynamics for Health Sciences, which would educate learners on how to use system dynamics to better understand complex medical issues and interventions, would be taught by Wits biomedical engineering Adjunct Professor David Rubin, Wits biomedical engineer and lecturer Robyn Letts and Johns Hopkins University Professor Tak Igusa.
Wits School of Electrical and Information Engineering Associate Professor Ivan Hofsajer, teaching Research Methods: An Engineering Approach, would unpack tactics on successfully designing research and understanding the underlying principles of postgraduate research from an engineering perspective.
The third course, Results-based Project Management: Monitoring and Evaluation, would examine the design and implementation of results-based, public sector programmes that optimise the use of resources and would be taught by Wits School of Governance lecturer and senior technical adviser Kieron Crawley.
“Developing these three edX MooCs has been an exciting collaboration between eLearning staff in the Centre for Learning, Teaching and Development and teams of academics,” said Woods.
Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Adam Habib concluded: “We will continue to develop course content to enable students from around the world to access our international expertise in fields ranging from the palaeosciences to infectious diseases and deep-level mining.”