Academic Skills for University Success MOOCs
Over the past year the Centre for English Teaching online team has created a series of five MOOCs (collectively called a ‘specialization’ on our host platform, Coursera) to help students prepare for academic life and culture. The MOOC series, called the ‘Academic Skills for University Success Specialization’, focuses on the skills students need most – communication, critical thinking, information and digital literacy, problem solving – culminating in a final capstone MOOC that integrates and consolidates the skills learnt in the other MOOCs. Since its inception, the specialization has proved a great success with over 20,000 learners from around the world signing up.
The MOOCs are designed to ease the transition of both local and international students into university study. Academic culture can seem quite foreign to students initially, and academic English is no one’s first language. This specialization addresses these issues by familiarising students not just with skills and strategies for university success, but also the norms, values and expectations of academic culture (Brick, Herke & Wong, 2016).
Almost all the content on the first four MOOCs is available free by selecting the ‘audit’ function when enrolling on Coursera, although full functionality and access to the final capstone requires payment. With around 175 video lessons all up, and discussions and practice activities surrounding the lessons, there should be more than enough resources to support students in their transition to university. As such, they provide a valuable resource for staff helping first year students in adapting to university.
How can you help your students using these MOOCs?
First year or undergraduate coordinators, lecturers and tutors, and professional staff can use these MOOCs to support students in two main ways:
- Recommend students to take the MOOCs in order to address specific issues. For example, if students have a particular weakness, such as with conducting research or writing essays, students could be directed to the Information and Digital Literacy MOOC, or the Communication Skills MOOC. Students may even just take individual modules or lessons to address areas of concern. The table here outlines what the modules are covered in MOOCs 1-4.
- Lecturers, tutors and other teaching staff may also use videos or other materials in support classes, or link to materials from the learning management system. If this is done, it’s important to use the materials as they are on Coursera, as downloading materials or using them out of context results in a loss of features native to the platform, such as in-video questions.