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USyd launches massive online indigenous culture course

A new online course aims to improve the indigenous cultural competence of Usyd staff and students, as well as members of the wider community

Smiling Indigenous Australians and allies standing together in a crowd. Image Source: University of Sydney National Centre for Cultural Competence

The University of Sydney has created a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Indigenous Australian culture, in an attempt to improve the cultural competence of USyd staff and students.

The MOOC, hosted online by the educational technology company Coursera, consists of six modules involving video resources and assessments.

USyd’s National Centre for Cultural Competence (NCCC) created the course in collaboration with Indigenous community leaders.

The course’s content revolves around understanding Indigenous history and contemporary Indigenous culture, experiences, and activism.

The MOOC is aimed at staff and students, but is also accessible to the broader community. At present, 365 individuals are enrolled.

A University of Sydney spokesperson said that the course would provide students with “an opportunity to learn from diverse lived experiences and to reflect on what it means to be a University community located on Aboriginal land”.

Jackson Newell, the SRC’s Indigenous Officer, described the course as a “great initiative of the NCCC”, specifically praising its emphasis on Redfern as a site of great importance to many Indigenous Australians.

“The majority of students walk to and from Redfern Station each day and don’t realise the significance of the suburb in Indigenous political history,” he said.

Newell hopes the course will encourage students “to engage with Indigenous affairs, and ask themselves what they can do to help”.

Participants can complete the course online for free, but will need to pay a $63 fee in order to gain a certificate in Indigenous Cultural Competence.

The official certificate can be linked to students’ LinkedIn profiles and included in their resumes.

Collected fees will be returned to the NCCC, as well as to online tutors and moderators involved in running the course.

In the future, USyd plans to offer the MOOC as a free, zero credit point unit of study for students that could be recognised on their academic transcripts.

The course comes as part of a global trend with some 35 million individuals enrolled in MOOCs over the last five years.

USyd has launched ten MOOCs in the last year with 14,600 sign ups.

Courses range from ‘Data Driven Astronomy’ to ‘Ethical Social Media’.

A USyd spokesperson said that MOOCs would allow “the University to share expertise and research across borders, countries and cultures for public good”.