NUI Galway has launched its “Online Learning at NUI Galway” website showcasing over sixty programmes across eight disciplines including IT, Science & Technology Studies, Social Sciences, Medicine, Nursing Studies and many others. All the programmes featured are available in a part-time, blended learning or online mode.
“Last year, over 1,300 students undertook courses via flexible learning at NUI Galway”, says Nuala McGuinn, Director of Lifelong Learning at NUI Galway. “Technological advances and online learning systems mean that the University’s reach is now far greater. Facilities such as Blackboard are used widely in the University’s teaching to facilitate online communications between students and lecturers. The number of non-traditional students at NUI Galway has increased significantly from 16% of the overall student population in 2006 to almost 23% in 2013.”
The array of programmes NUI Galway offers gives students an opportunity to up-skill in an area of personal and professional interest over a manageable timeframe. Each programme and module consists of a set of learning materials, which are specifically designed for online or blended learning. They facilitate independent study, are self-instructional in nature and are designed for students working at home.
Students who register for a blended learning programme should expect to attend seminars, laboratory, or skills sessions on-campus or in an outreach location. The number of sessions that students are required to attend will depend on the programme chosen. “Students who register for a fully online programme will complete all course work, including examinations, online”, explains Nuala McGuinn.
Further developments in extending the reach of the University beyond the traditional lecture theatre has been the development of a number of Open Online Courses, known more widely as MOOCS (massive open online courses) by University staff.
“These Open Courses do not carry any formal academic credit, they are designed purely for self-study, general interest or professional development and span a range of subject areas”, highlights Dr Iain MacLaren, Director of the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at NUI Galway. “These courses will be made free to the general public and include areas such as Irish Studies – history and archaeology, Planning Change and Innovation, - Education, and areas related to research expertise in the University”.
The Planning Change and Innovation course has recently commenced, while opportunities to register for the other free Open Courses will be advertised at different stages during the 2013-2014 academic year.
Internationally, NUI Galway is a member of the prestigious group of European Universities, the Coimbra group. As a member of Group’s e-Learning Task Force, NUI Galway are organising a series of online seminars on a range of aspects relating to technology and the future of higher education.