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Fig. 1. The above is a screen-grab. This is the link to Talk the Talk

These are an important step in expanding the appeal of e-learning - quality, free, online courses that serve multiple purposes: free learning, PR for the institution, feeding hungry minds ...

They typically require only two to four hours of your time a week - unlike the formal distance-learning degree programmes that require 16 - 22. Typically a very short video, some reading, some questions and research makes up each 'activity'. They are a taster of what these universities offer undergraduates, graduates and distance learners.

I've done two already (Web Sciences with the University of Southampton, Hamlet with the University of Birmingham), and a third of a similar ilk (First Steps into Teaching in Higher Education) offered independently by Oxford Brookes.

Explaining them to someone I described these as the 'new hard back', that sumptuous coffee-table book. You browse, you enjoy ... and then you engage. They are inspirational more than hardcore - though they do test your thinking with assessment too. Like one of these coffee-table books there's a bit of showing off too. And they're free. A great way to test the water in relation to self-directed learning online.


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