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Technology is bringing about a gradual but significant transformation in education. With the growing popularity of online learning, phenomena termed as nanodegree and MicroMaster have emerged over the years to provide a more focused and flexible alternative to regular institutional degrees. It may sound like these new form of credentials are posting a threat to the regular degree providers, yet in fact, prestigious universities around the world are leading this parade.

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For universities:
MicroMaster programs serve as a convenient sneak peek to regular master’s degrees provided by universities. With essentially no registration fee and pre-requisite, MicroMaster programs can attract a pool of applicants who are potentially interested in universities’ regular master’s programs. The universities can also identify high-flyers from the MicroMaster programs for admission to their regular program to ensure intake quality.

For learners:
MicroMasters programs offer a focused and affordable “teaser” before they make full commitment to the regular master’s degree. They also have a choice of applying for a Verified Certificate costing US$150 per course, either to enhance their competitiveness in the job market or gain a better chance of getting admitted into the regular master’s program. MicroMaster programs are also credit-eligible – it can substitute part of the on-campus coursework.

For employers:
MicroMaster credentials are still new to the employers but Ryan Craig, author of “College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education,” predicted that human resource platforms such as LinkedIn will develop new functions catered to this new form of qualification in terms of certificates/skills listing and credentials verifications. MicroMaster programs are focused, efficient and mostly concentrated in skills that are in high demand in the current job market. It is a great way to address the discrepancy between traditional institutional degrees and expectation from students and their future employers.

MicroMaster is indeed a leap forward in achieving internationalization. By extending our high quality teaching and learning contents to a greater audience, we can create a greater ripple of impact in the Asian region and the world. Want to give it a go? Contact us at enquiry@teli.hku.hk and let’s make it happen!

Fast facts:
- 20 MicroMasters programs offered by 14 universities are currently available on edX edX as of February 2017.
- Most of the programs focus in the field of business, management, computer science and education.
- The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) is offering a MicroMaster on International Hospitality Management.

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Reference
Craig, R. (2015). College disrupted: The great unbundling of higher education.

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Course starts TODAY!
Join us and think along with Classical Chinese masters as they explore and debate how and where we can find ethical guidance in nature.

Philosophy can be a daunting subject to teach, as it often involves the explanation of complex and abstract ideas, and encouraging students to think creatively and independently. The challenge becomes more pronounced in the context of online teaching, where students learn remotely and independently in front of their own computers. How do you engage the students and maintain their attention span, while doing justice to the intellectual depth of the subject? Such was the challenge we faced.

Course Instructor Professor Chad Hansen is a brilliant philosophy teacher. His lectures are always intellectually challenging and interesting at the same time. So how did we turn his course into a MOOC?

It has been a long development process with lots of trial and error.

At first, the production had a humble beginning. We just tried to film Professor Hansen without much preparation work to see how it would go. Chad is such a good speaker that he could speak on any topic effortlessly without a need of script and prompter. However, the result was not good. The clips filmed were too long and were difficult to be sliced into chunks to put into the edx platform. We realized that a very careful planning of table of content and flow is extremely important before you could even start. Our instructional designers then worked with Chad to divide his course material into many 6-10 minute long knowledge unit. Many researches showed that the optimal length of online educational video is 6 minute or shorter if you want to keep student engagement.

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Then we tried to film again strictly according to the defined knowledge units – clip by clip. We asked Chad to speak directly into the camera, as if addressing the viewers himself. The result was not bad, but that could not capture the dynamic and engaging character that his lectures are well known for – something was clearly missing.

Finally the production team tried a new and risky method – we put Professor Hansen in a small classroom setting and surrounded him with real students and three cameras. We shot it like a mini-concert in order to capture his signature performance naturally. The result was great and dynamic. One learner said in the discussion forum: “I envision this as an idealized college scene – a professor and a small group of students sitting in the green lawn discussing great thoughts concerning humanity”. This was exactly what we were trying to capture.

After capturing all footages, we tried to work backward to make storyboards. Instructional designers digested the clips and designed what highlighted text to be put on the screen. Our multimedia designers worked with Chad and his teaching assistants to create interesting and relevant visuals animations to present those abstract philosophy concepts. The goal was to create a right mix of intimacy and authority.

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Also we understand students lose easily in a sea of video clips with subject matter they are not familiar with. We did a few things to give a sense of structure throughout the course.

  1. Each week has an introduction clip and an conclusion clip.
  2. Each clip has an opening with the title of the knowledge unit.
  3. Each clip has a clear ending. The same piece of music chimes in when Chad is going to conclude the clip.
  4. We kept typography and graphic style strictly consistent. Each style got its structural meaning.

Besides the visual part, we believe the audio part is equally important. The audio level should be consistent with relatively free of noise and little ambience. The audio quality should not be muddy or overbright. The room we used to film was not good in terms of acoustic properties. It was huge with big ambience. There was also a lot of noise from air conditioners. We used special audio software to process every word in each video clip. We removed the noise, reduced the ambience and made EQ ( Equalization ) adjustment to make sure Chad’s speech sounds clearly in mediums that most learners will watch on – laptops with small speakers, mobile phones and headphones.

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The balance between education and entertainment is a hard one to strike. And we hope that we are able to make the learning experience as informative, enlightening, and enjoyable as possible.

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Greetings learners!

The wait is over. Vernacular Architecture of Asia: Tradition, Modernity and Cultural Sustainability is here!

The course aims to:

  • Deepen your appreciation of the values and meanings of vernacular architecture in your local environments
  • Establish your personal perspectives on the more complex issues in vernacular architecture, such as self-conscious or un-self-conscious way of building, informal settlements, and cultural sustainability
  • Help you to generate your own ideas of how to protect and conserve your local vernacular built environment

If you are someone who is curious or cares about the everyday environment you live in, this course is for you. Learn more details, register, and continue the journey with us in Vernacular Architecture of Asia: Tradition, Modernity and Cultural Sustainability. I look forward to seeing you on July 26th! Find out more about the course here!

Sincerely,

David Lung,
Professor of Architecture
Lady Edith Kotewall Professor in the Built Environment
University of Hong Kong

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farewell

As HKU03x Humanity and Nature in Chinese Thought is drawing to a close, we are going to round up the journey with an exciting online debate! You can join us in the audience simply by clicking on YouTube.

As remarked by course instructor Professor Chad Hansen, ‘For a teacher, it is a big change getting to know most of you by “handles” on your posts and [be] awed by the global reach and diversity of our online community.’ This debate goes in line with our dedication to achieving extensive global reach, while keeping the high-touch personalized interaction that you would expect in traditional classroom teaching.

Debaters from around the world will present their arguments on the topic
We should follow the social conventions of our society”, followed by comments and summary by Professor Chad Hansen.

Date: August 15, 2015 (Saturday)
Time: 22:00 HKT / 14:00 UTC
Language: English

Live recording

Instructions:

  1. Click the above link and then choose the YouTube live stream: HKU03x Online Debate: We should follow the social conventions of our society.
  2. Depending on your YouTube time zone setting, you will see “Watch the live stream!” and the time of the event, with the number of hours left to the debate underneath.
  3. Contribute to the live chat on your right and share with us your thoughts during the debate!
  4. Let the countdown begin and we are looking forward to meeting you online.

Don’t miss out on the grand finale of our first MOOC in Philosophy!

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