Wits has become the second major South African university to launch free online courses open to anyone who can access a computer and internet connection.

The university announced today that it is venturing into massive open online courses (MOOCs) starting in August in collaboration with Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s edX online learning platform.

The courses will made available over the next three years to enhance access to higher education, starting off with short online courses, and ultimately entirely online degree programmes.

Wits is the first university in Africa to offer courses on the platform.

“There is no doubt that there is a dire need for more places at South African universities and for access to quality post-school training.Wits is proud to be the first African university on the edX platform, where we offer free online courses unique to South Africa,” Professor Andrew Crouch, Deputy Academic Vice-Chancellor at Wits University, said in a statement.

In 2015, UCT launched its own MOOCs offering.

These are the first three courses that will be offered the WitsX:

System Dynamics for Health Sciences

Description: Learn to use system dynamics to better understand complex medical issues and interventions. The MOOC is taught by Wits Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Engineering, David Rubin, Wits biomedical engineer and lecturer, Robyn Letts, and Professor Tak Igusa, Johns Hopkins University.

Launch date: 3rd August 2016

Research Methods: An Engineering Approach

Description: Learn how to successfully design your research and understand the underlying principles of postgraduate research from an engineering
perspective. The MOOC is taught by Wits Associate Professor in the School of Electrical and Information Engineering, Ivan Hofsajer.

Launch date: 7th September 2016

Results-Based Project Management: Monitoring and Evaluation

Description: Learn how to design and implement results-based, public sector programmes that optimise the use of resources. This MOOC is taught by Wits School of Governance Lecturer and Senior Technical Advisor, Kieron Crawley.

Launch date:  5th October 2016

If you’re interested in registering for a MOOC, log on to WitsX, select ‘learn more’ about one of Wits’ three available MOOCs, click ‘enroll now’ and create an account.

You’ll have to allocate about two – four hours a week over six weeks to complete the free course and access online support from Wits experts.

Note, however, that a certificate of completion costs $49 (approximately R720 based on the current exchange rate) will be charged at the end of the course.

[Image – CC Wikimedia Commons]