Chulalongkorn University’s new educational platform, Chula MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), delivers education via internet connections to every corner of the country.
“Our wealth of knowledge and human assets should be accessible not only by our enrolled students, but also by the public at large,” says Associate Prof Dr Naebboon Hooncharoen, Assistant to the President for Academic Affairs at Chulalongkorn University.
Now entering its third year, Chula MOOC offers online courses to all students regardless of age, race, educational background or location. Most significantly, the free-of-charge courses reflect the university’s determination to connect with those who lack the funds for tuition fees.
Since it began in August 2017, Chula MOOC has designed 30 regular courses. The current lineup includes content relating to digital skills, IT, health, art and self-development. As the university’s educational philosophy stresses inclusiveness, there are also online Thai language courses for anyone of any nationality.
“Chulalongkorn University is the first Thai university to introduce its own MOOC to the public,” adds Assoc Prof Naebboon. “But sooner or later, other Thai universities will offer their individual MOOC platforms.”
Before developing its own MOOC platform, Chulalongkorn University had cooperated with Thai Cyber U, which provided access to an international MOOC platform for joint online courses.
Eventually, the Faculty of Engineering at Chulalongkorn University developed its own MOOC platform called Courseville, enabling the university to design its own courses to fit the needs of academia and local students alike.
Unsurprisingly, the public response to Chula’s free online courses has been overwhelming. When registrations for enrollment were opened, the maximum intake of 2,000 was filled within a few days.
According to Assoc Prof Naebboon, the most sought-after courses are Marketing in the 21st Century and Infographics: What & How? “Since all of these popular courses would be full within three days,” he says, “we have received a lot of complaints from those who were unable to enter their names soon enough.”
One young knowledge enthusiast, Panyathip Hattakanond, is among the lucky few who was able to register in time. She has enrolled in courses in IT Security and International Online Marketing. “Normally, I explore for more knowledge by myself through internet searches,” she says. “But the amount of information available from the web is so overwhelming that I find it difficult to choose what to learn.
“With MOOC courses, the knowledge overload has been screened and the content designed to suit our needs.”
Also, a full-time student in Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Communication Arts, Ms Panyathip says she found the MOOC course she took in parallel with her classes at Chula quite appropriate in terms of its content and the length of the course. “The video is engaging and the certificate will prove valuable in my resume,” she says with a broad smile.
With eight years of experience in conducting online courses, the providers of Chula MOOC learned through trial and error about what academic content would meet the public’s needs and gained more insights into the learning behavior of online students. Once the university’s own MOOC platform was launched, they were able to better tailor the courses to fulfill public expectations.
With 25% of its online students having passed and earned certificates, Chula MOOC is considered successful. Statistics show that for online courses in general, an average of 10% of those who register complete the courses and obtain certificates.
“This means that people who enroll in our courses have taken their education seriously,” Assoc Prof Naebboon says proudly.
In line with public demand, Chula MOOC will eventually develop more courses on human resources development in organizations, especially skill development. And in the near future, the platform will be opened to public participation, with interested individuals allowed to develop the content of interest in online courses.
This article was originally published in CU Around March 2018, Vol.61, Issue 3, Page 8, available at https://www.chula.ac.th/magazine/7629/