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people working on researchConferences of undergraduate research are the subject of the University’s first free, open online course.

UWindsor launches first free open online course

The University of Windsor will launch its first free, open online course on Tuesday, February 10, featuring experts from across Canada and internationally.

The course, titled UWill Discover: Undergraduate Research Conference, will explore undergraduate research and conferences to share that knowledge, and will culminate with the UWillDiscover conference on March 24.

“This is very exciting because it is the first time Windsor has done anything like this,” said Nick Baker, director of the Office of Open Learning, which is supporting the development of the course. “Very few others institutions in Canada have explored the power of open access courses yet either.”

The course will be delivered using the new Open Education Powered By Blackboard MOOC platform, which the University has access to as part of the move to Blackboard Learn as its institutional learning management system. Windsor will be the first Canadian institution to use this new platform to deliver an open online course.

“The world has embraced open education, especially through the Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs we’ve seen over the last couple of years,” Baker said. “What we wanted to do with this course, though, was a bit different because we are not trying to attract thousands of students to a general topic and just push out content. We want to reach a very targeted audience interested in undergraduate research and have dialogue with them.”

The course’s co-facilitator, Simon du Toit, says it will also serve to document the experience of developing and running an undergraduate research conference.

“We will use that experience to showcase to the world what our students are capable of,” he says.

The seven-week course will explore undergraduate research conferences from a different perspective each week (theoretical underpinnings, university administration, administrative coordinators, faculty, and students). It will feature weekly live video webconferences through Blackboard Collaborate, which will be recorded, and asynchronous discussion through the Open Education platform and social media, as well as videos and presentations by students.

The open access course will be available free online for anyone to sign up from anywhere in the world. People who enroll in the course can participate as little or as much as they choose, and diversity of experience and perspective is strongly encouraged.

Anyone interested can enrol in the course at: https://openeducation.blackboard.com/mooc-catalog/courseDetails/view?course_id=_272_1. For more information, or to explore ideas for your own open access course, contact Baker at nbaker@uwindsor.ca; 519-253-3000, ext. 4925, or the Office of Open Learning.

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