University of Auckland Offers Logic, Critical Thinking Online Course


The popular course Logical and Critical Thinking at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, will be the university's first LOC — large online course — scheduled for launch in 2016.

The Philosophy course is popular not just with Arts and Humanities students, but with students of STEM. From 2016, students will have the option to either take the offline conventional course or the digital version. Those opting for the digital course will sit for an end-of-term exam on campus or at another location. The online course will count toward a student's degree.

Logical and Critical Thinking is a digital course developed and run by Associate Professor Tim Dare and Dr. Patrick Girard that ensures the physical limitations of the campus course don't exclude students who want to take it. With the online version of Logical and Critical Thinking, students will avoid timetable clashes, lectures will be less crowded, and students will be able to plan their learning around other courses or commitments, Dare said in a press release from the university.

"We know students are juggling work so they can do this course in the evening," Dare said.

Students taking the course online will have access to educational resources specifically tailored for the web, including short videos, tutorials and articles.

Currently, the University offers Logical and Critical Thinking through the MOOC platform FutureLearn as an eight-week course. So far, more than 28,000 students from around the world have enrolled in the course, the University says. The first half of the course focused on important concepts and tools in critical thinking and the second half on their application.

The course aims to teach students how to identify common thinking mistakes that often lead to misleading or wrong beliefs, how to recognize, construct and evaluate arguments, how to leverage logical tools to analyze arguments and how to implement logical and critical thinking in sciences and everyday life.

At the moment, Dare and Girard are creating more videos and online materials to stretch the eight-week course into a twelve-week module, reports.

Auckland's first LOC is available to fee-paying students. However, students outside of the University can also apply for the course and earn a Certificate of Proficiency when they complete it, Scoop Media says.

The campus course consists of 24 lectures, two per week, and eleven discussion groups. These lectures will be recorded even though they're meant for in-person delivery, the University says.

For Rory McCourt, president of the New Zealand University Students' Association, online courses negatively affect the quality of education on offer, arguing that the interactivity and social character of in-person education are lost in digital learning.

McCourt asked the University to "tread carefully" because "quite often it can degrade the quality of the institution's reputation." He also mentioned that MOOCs tend to have low completion rates.

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