Minister Bowen said: “we don’t yet know what the full impact online forces will have on the delivery of higher education. But we know it’s going to have a big impact… and we know that any university or any institution that doesn’t respond and offer flexible programs is going to fall behind.”
Education without “paying a cent”
Paul Wappet, the CEO of Open Universities Australia guaranteed students that they would not have to “pay a cent” for the new digital courses. “We’re focused on delivering outstanding quality, but without the price tag”, he said to the ‘The Conversation’.
This does not mean that Australian students would no longer have to pay to get a degree at a university. The courses offered by Open2Study will not be a replacement for other tertiary studies. The courses were designed “unashamedly to let the student taste what is available, getting them familiar with higher learning, so they can build the confidence to go onto further study”, Wappet guaranteed.
Wappett said the platform is an experiment of sorts and that Open Universities Australia “would be learning alongside the student about what works”. He added that he would be open to providing accreditation or course certificates once the platform was more established.
The Australian MOOC platform differs from its American counterparts, according to Roland Sussex from the Centre for Educational Innovation and Technology, Open2Study is even more flexible and has more emphasis on social collaborative learning. In Open2Study courses will only four weeks, compared to 8 in Cousera and edX.
Free online education has boomed since eminent universities like Harvard and Stanford created their own MOOC platforms, with Coursera and edX dominating so far. Mr Wappett said the Australian response to these changes had been “slow compared to our counterparts in the United States.” Australian universities had engaged in “a lot of gnashing of teeth but not a lot of action.”
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