UCT launches 2nd MOOC: "What is a Mind?"

8 May 2015 - 16:30

Extraordinary conversations on a Massive Scale

by Janet Small

Following on from the successful launch and delivery of UCT’s first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Medicine and the Arts: Humanising Healthcare next week, sees the launch of UCT’s second MOOC, What is a Mind?, in which leading psychologist Professor Mark Solms, tackles a question that has perplexed philosophers, scientists, historians and ordinary people across time and cultures.

The academic convenors of Medicine and the Arts: Humanising Healthcare Steve Reid (Primary Health Care) and Susan Levine (Anthropology) had an unusual experience last month - they ran two classes simultaneously, a small face-to-face class and an online class of nearly 4 000. Participants from over 100 countries took part in their online course, alongside a healthy representation of South Africans.

Creating and running this Massive Open Online Course (or MOOC) is a new experience for all of us at UCT.  ‘The online space is a new and exciting one, with the strangeness of never meeting most of you physically, but it allows us to have a series of extraordinary conversations, that are located precisely in that inter-disciplinary space that we were aiming for. I must admit to being somewhat addicted to reading what you have had to say each day!’, wrote lead educator Professor Steve Reid to participants after the first week of the course.

Drawing in 15 different academics mainly from UCT, Medicine and the Arts: Humanising Healthcare showcased UCT as a leading university providing stimulating, exciting education in an emerging interdisciplinary field of medical humanities.

Participants responded with enthusiasm to the material and tackled the quizzes and short writing assessments with gusto, and there were many discussions on the platform, through Twitter and on people’s personal blogs as a community formed in real time.

 Rachel Harris tweet

phillip shridan tweet

 At the end of the course, a seasoned online learner, Jonathan Vernon posted on his  blog describing his experience of the Medicine and the Arts MOOC.  ‘Great videos, and graphics, a balance of views, a variety of approaches (video, text, audio, quizzes and assignments) engaging conversations with fellow participants, an extraordinary wealth of speakers, moments of magic, and shock, and inspiration...The course creators at the University of Cape Town and the support they will have had from FutureLearn should make them deservedly hugely proud.’ see full blog post

We hope that as What is a mind? opens next week, thousands of people from around the world will engage in discussions about this intriguing question through this free six-week online course. Sign up remains open throughout the duration of the course.  If the comments thus far on Mark Solms’ blog post about this course are anything to go by, we expect a lively and engaging encounter ahead.