Thousands of people around the world have been given an introduction to marine science thanks to the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies’ (IMAS) Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).

IMAS is celebrating a milestone for the free Marine and Antarctic Science (Marine) MOOC, with more than 10,000 people around the world enrolling over the last two years.

The MOOC went live in December 2013 through Open2Study, an online portal backed by Open Universities Australia.

Organiser Professor Craig Johnson co-presents the MOOC with Dr Jess Melbourne-Thomas. He said the course covers a wide range of topics, including:

·         Marine life

·         Food webs

·         Ecosystems, such as the Antarctic and kelp forests

·         Climate change

·         The impact of human activities like fishing

·         Marine stewardship.

The MOOC is a great introduction to marine and Antarctic science and we're delighted that so many people in Australia and around the world have taken an interest, Professor Johnson said.

"Just over one-third of the MOOC's students have been Australian but there has also been strong interest from the United States, UK, India, Spain and New Zealand.

"More than 60 per cent of those taking part have been female, and while people aged from 18-34 account for more than half of the uptake we're also pleased to be making a contribution to lifelong learning, with more than 10 per cent of those interested aged 55 and over.

The Introduction to Marine Science MOOC is delivered by Professor Craig Johnson and Dr Jess Melbourne-Thomas.

The course takes four weeks to complete and is suitable for a wide range of people – from potential students and future scientists to people who are just curious to learn more about our oceans.

"We've had wonderful positive feedback from many of the 10,000 people who've enrolled, with a comparatively high success rate for MOOCs resulting in 2,300 students completing all of the assessments required to receive a Certificate of Achievement," Professor Johnson said.

One participant said the course was “extremely interesting, thought-provoking and encourages me to go out and learn more about our oceans, sea, water creatures and looking after them.”

Another student said “I absolutely loved the course! It gives you a good overview of the different parameters that play together and shows what areas you might want to improve your knowledge. Hope to be able to take the studies a bit further. Thank you for this great course!"

Another participant said: “I have taken many MOOCs and this was, by far, the most professionally presented and produced course I have seen. The two professors are obviously well-qualified to present this material and do so in an easily-understood and interesting way. The videos and visual aids are excellent. PLEASE produce more courses like this one!”

The IMAS MOOC starts every four weeks. For more information, click here.

The University also offers the hugely popular Understanding Dementia MOOC: http://www.utas.edu.au/wicking/wca/mooc

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