The first free online courses in arts and science are about to be offered at The University of Western Australia in collaboration with US Internet study pioneer, Stanford University.
The courses are expected to reach many thousands of students around the world - a far cry from UWA's beginnings a century ago when its first 184 students began their studies in makeshift buildings in Irwin Street, Perth.
Today's online courses developed by Stanford - ranked Number Two in the 2012 Academic Ranking of World Universities - are delivered via Stanford's Class2Go software. The UWA Centre for Software Practice has been collaborating with Stanford University in the development of the platform.
UWA's open online courses start on 25 February with "Developing the Sociological Imagination". UWA's Associate Professor Martin Forsey said the course would develop an understanding of sociology, a consideration of one's place in the world and the ways in which social character impacts on life experiences.
"I expect a great deal of learning will happen in discussion forums, hopefully with peers from around the world," Associate Professor Forsey said.
"Ocean Solutions", presented by Winthrop Professor Carlos Duarte, Director of UWA's Oceans Institute, begins on 16 April. It examines how some of humanity's greatest challenges, including food and water security, clean energy supplies and healthy marine ecosystems, can be solved by harnessing the ocean's energy and resources.
Students who complete the courses successfully will receive a certificate of completion. UWA hopes that interested students will either explore more open online courses to be offered in the future on UWA Class2Go or enrol in courses at the University.
Enrolled UWA students will also benefit from these online courses because the video and quizzes developed as part of UWA Class2Go will be provided as part of a "flipped classroom" approach to teaching at UWA. Enabling students to consume the content of a course in their own time will provide more time in class for project work, problem solving and face-to-face discussions.