Online maths offers refreshing alternative

The University of Wollongong has developed its third, free MOOC - Massive Open Online Course - aimed at people who need a maths refresher.

The Reluctant Mathematician will be taught online over four weeks, with the lessons timed to finish before most UOW or TAFE courses begin.

Lessons will be delivered with the aid of a whiteboard and supported by online support coaches, who will be made available for certain hours to help participants who have become stuck.

Participants will also be able to ask for help at any of UOW's library facilities.

Sarah Lambert, UOW's manager for open education, said the course was expected to appeal to incoming first-year students wanting to brush up on their maths before their regular course load began.

Many UOW students found maths concepts difficult and stressful, but they needed to understand them in order to pursue their chosen career, she said.

"We're trying to pick topics that there's a strong need for," she said.

Coursework includes quizzes and self-tests designed to show if the lessons - in arithmetic of fractions, basic algebra, factorisation, and indices - were working.

"We've worked really hard to make it as painless as possible," Ms Lambert said.

"The mini lectures are all nice little video clips. You can watch them as many times as you need."

Enrolments opened on Monday and - in a sign of the growing internationalisation of higher education - the first sign-ons came from South Africa.

UOW's first MOOC, on management of chronic diseases, launched late last year and had 1500 sign-ons.

Ms Lambert said the latest free course could be considered a community service - likely to also be of benefit to parents of high school students who wanted to help with their children's schoolwork.

Visit open.uow.edu.au for further details of the MOOC course.

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