The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) will add its first three courses on edX (xConsortium) - one of the two major platforms in the world that offers Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), in its ongoing efforts to promote this next generation learning medium that not only gives any eager learner worldwide an opportunity to take classes provided by top universities, but also make learning more personalized and flexible for students.
The University will also offer a pilot scheme this summer for HKUST students to earn credits for their degree study, provided that they complete six weeks of face-to-face course work on campus on top of the MOOC they take. The course will be listed on their transcript and the credits can be counted as degree requirements.
The three new courses to launch between June and September are as follows:
"Introduction to Computing with Java", by Prof Ting-chuen Pong from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, is designed to equip students with the fundamental elements of programming and data abstraction using Java.
"A System View of Communications: From Signals to Packets (Part 1)" by Prof Bertram Shi and Prof Shenghui Song from theDepartment of Electronic and Computer Engineering, who will discuss tradeoffs in designing communication systems like mobile phones and the engineering tools that handle them.
"English for Doing Business in Asia - Speaking" by Mr Sean McMinn and Ms Delian Gaskell, Senior Instructor and Instructor respectively from the Center for Language Education. They will explore strategies for developing spoken English communication skills in the context of doing business in Asia.
As one of Asia's first universities to launch MOOCs, HKUST saw the potential of this new teaching method and has formed a taskforce on e-Learning in 2012. With members drawn from different Schools, the taskforce explores strategy, effectiveness and quality of programs, with its multimedia team and designated studios producing online course materials.
The taskforce is now taking MOOCs forward in the local context by introducing credit-bearing courses through blending online classes with face-to-face course work. Prof Ting-chuen Pong, HKUST's Senior Advisor to the Executive Vice-President and Provost (Teaching Innovation and e-Learning) and chairman of the taskforce, said such an initiative could help solve one of MOOCs' challenges - verification of the learner's identity and recognition of their study.
"The move may lead to another form of international exchange, it could bring overseas learners to campus and create further diversity at HKUST," Prof Pong said.
Prof King-lau Chow, from HKUST's Division of Life Science, taught "The Science of Gastronomy", one of the University's first MOOCs, with Prof Lam-lung Yeung from the Department of Chemistry. Prof Chow said a major advantage of mass online education is that it allows teachers to better understand students' learning behavior through the analysis of their viewing pattern of the video. Their popular course has drawn over 100,000 enrollments worldwide. It will be the first course in Hong Kong to adopt the credit-bearing system.
HKUST launched three MOOCs last year with Coursera, the other major MOOC platform founded by computer science professors from Stanford University. It was the first university in Greater China to form a partnership with Coursera back in 2012. Last year, HKUST also joined edX - a non-profit-making online learning initiative founded by Harvard University and MIT. Other top institutions currently providing MOOCs include Yale University, Peking University, University of Michigan and University of Tokyo.
The three courses HKUST launched last year were as follows:
'A New History for a New China 1700-2000: New Data and New Methods, Part 1' by Prof James Lee, Dean and Chair Professor of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.
'Science, Technology, and Society in China 1: Basic Concepts' by Prof Naubahar Sharif, Associate Professor in the Division of Social Science.
About the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) (www.ust.hk) is a world-class international research university excelling in science, technology and business as well as humanities and social science. Internationally renowned for its academic rigor and accomplishments, the University promotes interdisciplinary studies and provides holistic education, nurturing well-rounded graduates with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, innovative thinking and relevant skills to thrive in a knowledge economy. As an international university with strong ties to global thought leaders, HKUST has wide-ranging connections with Mainland China while aspiring to be a global premier knowledge hub and a center of research breakthroughs. HKUST was ranked Asia's number one by QS Asian University Rankings for the third straight year since 2011. It tops the world's under-50 universities in 2013-14. The Kellogg-HKUST Executive MBA (EMBA) program, for the fifth straight year, topped the Financial Times EMBA global rankings.
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