Monash University MOOCs rated amongst the best in the world

Four of Monash University’s free online short courses have ranked in the world’s Top Online Courses of All Time, more than any other Australian university.

The rankings come at a time when there has been a surge in popularity in online university courses since March when COVID-19 first hit. Massive open online classes, or MOOCs, have seen a surge in enrolments since March.

With global lockdowns, and MOOCs providers like Coursera, edX, and FutureLearn, growth actually didn’t come from campuses going online, but from social distancing policies coming into effect worldwide.

Class Central first noticed this surge on March 15. By the end of April, nine million learners had visited Class Central, compared to just 500,000 by the end of February. Coursera received over 10 million course enrolments in a 30-day period, up 644 per cent from last year. And edX became one of the world’s top 1000 websites.

Each year Class Central publishes a ranking of The Best Online Courses of All Time, based on thousands of reviews written by learners. Started in 2016, Class Central aggregates courses from more than 100 universities in 23 countries - focusing primarily on free to join courses from universities, offered through MOOC platforms.

In its latest rankings, the Monash University short courses on FutureLearn, in the Top 200 are:

  • Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance
  • Maintaining a Mindful Life
  • The Psychology of Learning

The Food as Medicine course, run by Monash University’s Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food, is a three week, free online course that, at a time when food and nutrition information is at an all-time high, addresses the confusion and misinformation out there about food-based recommendations for wellness.

“The concept of food as medicine is not new; foods have been used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years and is a feature of many cultures around the world,” says head of Department, Professor Gary Williamson.

“However nutrition science has evolved and developed significantly over the recent years; our knowledge of nutrients, bioactive compounds of foods, and their relationship with disease, is significantly more advanced and our understanding of the role of food in health continues to grow.

“Despite this there is still a lot of debate and expectations of ‘food as medicine’.”

Professor Williamson said the course’s popularity was because of its “broad general interest appeal to everyone interested in food, nutrition and health”.

“But it is also targeted at healthcare professionals who are looking to learn more evidenced-based information to assist them in providing food-based recommendations to their patients,” he said.

The Monash Centre for Professional Development and Monash Online Education delivers large professional development and online learning education initiatives across the University.

The professional development arm of the Centre runs a suite of offerings, including short courses, executive education programs, free-to-join Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), accredited premium courses for professionals needing to upskill in their industry, and microcredentials. The Monash Online arm is responsible for the development of postgraduate award courses, from Graduate Certificates to Masters programs, and runs a suite of online offerings.

In total the highly successful Monash MOOCs have now enrolled more than 1.1 million learners since 2014. MOOClab's 2020 World University Rankings has Monash at #48 globally.