Friday, February 28, 2014 - 10:45

More than 70,000 people from around the world have signed up for The University of Queensland’s first free online course, due to start on Monday 3 March.

There are more students enrolled in this single course than the university’s entire student base for 2014.

Think101x: The Science of Everyday Thinking is offered by UQ through edX, the not-for-profit massive open online course (MOOC) provider founded by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and of which UQ is one of 33 core members globally.

It is the first of four MOOC courses to be offered by UQx in 2014. Other courses due to start in April are:

  • Biomedical imaging, starting 7 April 2014,Professor Graham Galloway
  • Hypersonics - from shock waves to scramjets, starting 7 April 2014, Professor David Mee
  • Tropical coastal ecosystems, starting 28 April 2014, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

Think101x is led by Dr Jason Tangen, Senior Lecturer and Dr. Matthew Thompson from UQ’s School of Psychology.

Psychology at UQ is internationally well-regarded, ranking in the top 14 in the world in the QS World University Rankings by Subject for 2014.

“The course will explore everyday thinking: why people believe weird things, how we form and change our opinions, why our expectations skew our judgments, and how we can make better decisions,” Dr Tangen said.

“Over 12 weeks we will discuss and debate topics such as medical diagnosis, paranormal phenomena, placebos and miracles with the world’s brightest minds.

“Students will learn how to evaluate claims, make sense of evidence and understand why we so often make irrational choices.

“We’ve met with 21 leading thinkers from across the globe to discuss everything from hindsight to horoscopes.”

Guests include Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Prize in economic science, television MythBusters duo Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, and a range of expert thinkers from the world’s top universities.

MOOCs are free to anyone and participants do not need any previous education or experience.

Completing the course will take an estimated effort of two hours a week over 12 weeks.

The enormous interest that the enrolment numbers reflect is a testament to the international popularity of this course.

The course has been designed to be accessible to interested learners including busy professionals, parents, and high school students.

Matthew Thompson said a distinguishing feature of Think101x was that 200 of the enrolled students would not only experience the course online, but would also attend the UQ campus-based course.

“We’re filming these campus-based classes for the 60,000 edX students to watch and invite them to suggest activities for future classes. We’re essentially crowdsourcing to improve our campus-based experience,” Dr. Thompson said.

“Putting the course material online allows us to devote traditional lecture time to exchanging ideas, debating issues, and providing immediate and thoughtful feedback to students.

“We want our students to realise that knowing how to think is far more important than knowing what to think. We want to give them the tools to change the world.”

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said UQ’s first suite of four UQx courses offered advantages to students both at home and abroad

“Students around the world will be exposed to some of our most talented researchers and teachers, and students on campus have the opportunity to enhance their learning outcomes,” Professor Høj said.

“Importantly, MOOCs are helping us understand how to design and deliver curriculum to very large cohorts made up of students of different abilities and different starting points. 

“The technologies involved will increase the flexibility with which we can deliver content to our own students and which, in turn, will help relieve pressures on academic time and physical space.

“In an increasingly competitive international environment for excellent students, the global reach of MOOCs and how we can use them to improve the learning experiences of our students will help keep UQ ahead of the game.”

Sign up for the free Think101x course at: http://bit.ly/think101x

More information is available at: think101.org

More about UQ edX courses: https://www.edx.org/school/uqx

Media contact: Emma MacKenzie, info@think101.org 0408 025 251, or Lynelle Ross, ITS Communications, 07 3346 6912.