On your MOOCS, set, go…for free online learning

The first Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) from the University of Glasgow will soon commence.

The course – ‘Cancer in the 21st Century – the genomic revolution’ – is currently open for registration on FutureLearn, a UK-led platform for delivering free, online courses.

Anyone anywhere in the world with an internet connection can sign up for free to the course which over six weeks will provide participants with video tutorials, reading materials, group discussions and assignments that can be completed in five-to-six hours per week.

The course, which starts on 19 May and is run by Dr Leah Marks and Dr Sarah Meek, is aimed at anyone with an interest in the topic and participants generally require no specialist knowledge, though a background in the relevant areas may help.

Glasgow is one of 26 university partners of FutureLearn, which is backed by the Open University. Other FutureLearn partners include the British Museum, the British Library and the British Council.

While not credit-bearing, free, online courses are seen as an excellent way for increasing knowledge and interest in different subject areas – useful for those looking to access university-level courses or people who simply have an interest in learning new things.

Professor Frank Coton, Vice-Principal for Learning and Teaching at the University of Glasgow said: “We are excited to see our first course advertised and about to commence and we hope that as we expand our offering we will inspire and engage those who choose to study with us.

“Our partnership with FutureLearn will allow us to reach out to a whole new group of learners and underlines the commitment of this University to widening access to education.” 

The ‘Cancer in the 21st Century – the genomic revolution’ course will introduce participants to knowledge of how modern genetics has revolutionized approaches to the detection and treatment of cancer and how these may develop in the future. 

Cancer Research UK estimates that one in three people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime and it is a disease which impacts on most people’s lives at some stage. Thus understanding cancer and the development of new treatments is of intrinsic interest to us all.
As such, this course will appeal to many, although it may be particularly attractive to individuals with a prior interest in biology, for example current undergraduate students, nurses or medics who want to further their knowledge in this area.

Over the six weeks of this course students will examine three key questions: 'Where have we come from?' 'Where are we now?' and 'Where are we going?' with respect to cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Guest lecturers include active researchers and those involved in direct patient care and will include an insight in patient experience as well as discussion in key issues. Students will also get the chance to undertake their own internet based investigation into one of the most exciting areas of cancer research.
This course will be divided into six key topics. 
Week 1: Where have we come from? The ‘normal’ cell and beyond

  • Week 2: The evolution of the cancer genome
  • Week 3: Cancer causation and abnormal DNA
  • Week 4: Where are we now? Current approaches to cancer
  • Week 5: Targeted therapies
  • Week 6: Where are we going? The genomic revolution

The University will be launching more courses on FutureLearn and more information about the courses available can be found on the FutureLearn website: www.futurelearn.com

Media enquiries: stuart.forsyth@glasgow.ac.uk / 0141 330 4831

First published: 7 April 2014

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