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Hong Kong: Latest News

Asian first for Hong Kong students seeking online credits

A Hong Kong university is the first in Asia to offer new online credit options

student on laptop MOOC

The Hong Kong University and Science and Technology (HKUST) has become the first university in Asia to offer MOOCs, online open study programmes.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are online study courses that let students gain university course credits via distance-learning. HKUST’s first MOOC, taught in English and entitled ‘Science, Technology and Society in China’ began on April 4, and drew some 17,000 students from around the world.

‘It’s the future of learning,’ chairman of HKUST’s university taskforce Professor Pong Ting-Chuen told the South China Morning Post. MOOCs, he explains, are a key opportunity to boost the university’s international reach.

‘If students abroad want to experience our education, they can do so through MOOCs and after that, some to HKUST to get credits if they want. HKUST students can do the same at overseas institutes.’

Courses content may be anything from video lectures to online discussions and assessment tasks. Anyone is able to register, but in some cases may need to do a quota of on-campus assessment in order to gain the credit. Within the next five years, HKUST plans to incorporate MOOCs into a fifth of its study programmes.

Developed and uploaded onto Coursera, a California-based course-sharing platform, HKUST professor Naubahar Sharif produced around 30 videos and other course material for the debut MOOC that was tailored for the ‘faceless large mass’ of the digital classroom.

 ‘Not knowing who my students are, I have to treat them with the utmost respect,’ Mr. Sharif told University World News. ‘I give the time and attention a student body deserves.’ Most students enrolled in the HKUST MOOC hailed from the US, the UK and Canada, with significant responses also from Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and Asia.

Coursera first invited HKUST to engage with the MOOC format in efforts of attracting more Asian, and particularly Chinese students to the platform. However, for MOOCs to gain traction with Chinese students, HKUST is working with Coursera to develop more courses taught in Chinese. In August, Coursera will launch a Chinese-language platform that will link to a MOOC from National Taiwan University on Chinese history, and to another from the Chinese University of Hong Kong about Chinese opera.

In creating MOOC content, Chinese universities would then need to cooperate with the government in creating ‘official versions’ that could then be uploaded by university professors.

The University of Hong Kong has also been working towards providing MOOCs since joining edX in 2013, a Harvard and MIT founded online education platform. The MOOCs, named ‘HKUx’ will kick-off with a course on infectious diseases and public health entitled ‘Epidemics.’ The Chinese University of Hong Kong is also set to run a MOOC in September on the international role of China’s currency.


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