MOOCs are now making their way into the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

MOOCS, as in massive open online courses: a 2-year-old fad in higher education in which universities — including the likes of Stanford, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — offer online courses, often for free, to anyone who signs up.

It’s taken UH a while to hop on the bandwagon, but a UH Manoa College of Education course that launched this summer could be a harbinger of a new era of online learning in the state’s only public university system.

It’s no coincidence that the course explores the very topics it represents. “Introduction to E-Learning,” a class offered through the college’s Department of Learning Design and Technology, can be taken for university credit or for free without.

mooc at college of Education

“Introduction to E-Learning” is the first massive open online course offered at UH Manoa.

UHM College of Education

The college offered it for the first time for three weeks in July, enrolling 64 students ranging from beginners to university faculty interested in enhancing their own instruction and information-technology personnel looking for professional development. The course is being offered again in the spring.

The course uses open content copyrighted through Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that facilitates the exchange of materials and knowledge.

Students collaborate with each other and faculty members in a social media-based community, working in real time and on their own. The course also has an evaluation system through which students can rate assignments and provide feedback about the instructors.

The final project asks students to create an original online design — products that also become open content available to the public.

Meanwhile, in other IT news, UH Manoa’s College of Engineering has just received a $500,000 research grant from the National Science Foundation to bring broadband wireless service to remote or rural areas in Hawaii.

UH wants to implement systems that integrate high-performance directional antennas, propagation modeling applications and spectrum-sensing resources.

Roughly 6 percent of the country’s population lacks access to reliable broadband communications coverage, according to UH.


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