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Online classes proposed to help boost education

Feb 14,2015
Kim Ah-ram, a master’s student at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, took a class on big data last semester. But her professor wasn’t in the classroom, and in fact, he wasn’t even part of the university. Instead, he appeared online via edX, a website that provides massive open online courses otherwise known as MOOCs.

EdX was founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) about three years ago.

“It was interesting and educational to learn big data methods online, and the lecture at my college was based on discussions,” Kim said.

Edx is composed of 30 global institutions, transforming online and on-campus learning on an online platform. MOOCs like edX deliver education content online without an attendance requirement.

As the popularity of online courses via prestigious foreign universities grows, schools in Korea have begun to provide classes associated with those online courses.

The Ministry of Education recently announced that it would provide the online courses in Korea in a MOOC format, combining them with lectures conducted on-site.

Minister of Education Hwang Woo-yea proposed the idea at a cabinet meeting on Feb. 3.

“We will select around 20 high-quality classes in universities in Korea and begin the program at the end of the year,” he said. “By 2018, we will provide some 500 online courses.”

The Ministry of Education will provide online courses in Korean first, and then expand to English and Chinese services. While the government will be in charge of running the Internet site, the content will be developed and run by universities.

“The overall plan will be finished in February, and the 10 universities that will provide the courses will be chosen by then,” said Kim Jeong-yeon, an official from the Education Ministry.

MOOCs are different from regular online courses used by high school students. While those involve public and private education institutes, MOOCs are more specialized, using a mutual-learning system in which professors and students can interact. They take exams, receive feedback on homework and conduct discussions with other registered students.

Once a student passes a course with a certain grade, a certificate with the name of the university will be provided.

Education experts have assessed that the implementation of the MOOC platform will have a tremendous impact on Korea’s education landscape.

“Anyone who wants to study can enroll in classes through MOOCs without paying tuition, which is totally different from the traditional university system,” said Kim Hyeong-yul, the head of the Digital Humanities Center at Sookmyung Women’s University.

Kim Jeong-yeon, the ministry official, said a brand-new course system will be generated according to the MOOC initiative. “This new system of learning in which students take lectures online and conduct discussions in class, so-called ‘flipped learning,’ will spread in many universities,” he said, adding that some universities have already changed their regulations by replacing traditional offline course credits with MOOC credits.

Since 2013, Tsinghua University and Peking University in China have allowed students who have participated in the MOOC program to earn credit after passing designated exams.

And starting in September, Dongseo University in Busan will provide university lectures on North Korea studies on the MOOC platform.

According to the university, anyone interested can listen to the lectures.

BY CHUN IN-SUNG, SHIN JIN [ypc3c@joongang.co.kr]







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