Sheffield tops list of global institutions for world class online courses

Top 100 online courses of all time

Class Central, an online search engine for online courses, has released its annual list of the top Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) worldwide, based on independent reviews from over 60,000 learners.

Out of over 30,000 MOOCs from 1,000 Universities, our University was one of only three institutions worldwide to have five MOOCs featured in the top 100 list. The online courses are hosted on Futurelearn, a digital education platform hosting free online courses from leading universities and organisations.

Professor Brendan Stone, Deputy Vice-President for Education, said: “This is a fantastic achievement which not only shows the quality of the teaching across our University, but also the skills that exist within our Digital Learning team, whose members have played a critical part in developing and coordinating these MOOCs.”

The courses listed in the top 100 for their 4.5-5 star ratings were:

Discover Dentistry, led by Professor Chris Stokes from the School of Dentistry

Discover Dentistry was the first Futurelearn online course here at Sheffield. The course enables learners to interact with academics from the School of Dentistry and offers an entertaining and insightful exploration of the mouth and the people who care for it. This course is ideal for those who are thinking of becoming a dentist or those who are just curious about the past, present and future of teeth and their care.

Professor Chris Stokes said: "While this course was originally written to be a fun and accessible guide for potential dental students to learn more about the profession, over 15 runs we have been excited to see it grow to reach a much more diverse and international audience that includes dental patients, dental professionals contributing their own expertise and experience from all over the world, and even those who are anxious about dental treatment wanting to learn more in a safe and supportive environment."

Professor Chris Stokes is a winner of multiple teaching awards, including a National Teaching Fellowship in 2016, and a Senate Award Fellowship for Excellence in Learning and Teaching in 2005. Chris is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. In 2018 he was given a personal chair in recognition of his work in digital learning and dental education.

Discover Dentistry

Discover Dentistry behind the scenes

Finding Mr. X, led by Professor Katherine Linehan from Biomedical Science

Finding Mr X is a two week course that explores the forensic technique of facial reconstruction. Based on a real-life mystery of a body discovered in a bag in Sheffield, learners gain insight from the experts who worked to determine the identity of Mr X, discover the forensic science techniques that were used to identify the body and understand the circumstances surrounding the individual’s death.

Katherine Linehan is Professor of Anatomical Education in the Department of Biomedical Science, Faculty Director for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and Chair of the University Gender Equality Committee. Professor Linehan has been the key driving force behind the pioneering redesign of the anatomy curriculum here at the University. Through her design of the unique MSc in Human Anatomy with Education, she supports the development of the next generation of anatomy educators. Professor Linehan was recently awarded a 2019 National Teaching Fellowship in recognition of the outstanding impact of her teaching and support.

Professor Linehan said: “Creating Mr X has allowed me to further extend the inclusive classroom ethos that has been pivotal to my work here at Sheffield to encompass learners worldwide from all walks of life.

“Through the wonders of technology, undergraduates at Sheffield now study Forensic Anatomy hand in hand with crime writers, homemakers, shopkeepers, finance directors and school children from countries as far away as Russia and Italy.

“I am incredibly indebted to the Digital Learning Team for their support, ingenuity and enthusiasm in making Mr X the success it has been and am pleased that this work has been recognised both by a Senate Award and now by this independent review.”

Professor Katherine Linehan Finding Mr X

Literature of the English Country House, led by Professor Susan Fitzmaurice from the School of English

Literature of the English Country House invites learners to delve into 450 years of literature inspired by and set in some of the country’s most magnificent buildings such as Chatsworth House. The eight week course is ideal for literature lovers and costume drama enthusiasts who would like to discover the secrets behind the exquisite English country houses which are steeped in history, romance and sometimes scandal.

The course is delivered by a team of experts from the School of English specialising in the language and literature of England across four centuries. They include Professor Joe Bray, Dr Amber Regis, Dr Jim Fitzmaurice, Professor Andrew Smith, Professor Cathy Shrank, Dr Tom Rutter, Professor Angela Wright and Dr Adam Smith.

Professor Susan Fitzmaurice said: “We are thrilled that this MOOC showcases our work and illustrates its impact on the experience of people who visit the country houses of England today.”

Jim Fitzmaurice and Susan Fitzmaurice

Literature of the English Country House

The Musculoskeletal System: The Science of Staying Active into Old Age, from the Centre for Integrated research into Musculoskeletal Ageing (CIMA)

The Science of Staying Active into Old Age is a free course developed by the MRC-Arthritis Research UK Centre for Integrated research into Musculoskeletal Ageing, a collaboration between the Universities of Liverpool, Sheffield and Newcastle. On the course, learners find out why our bones, joints and muscles function less well as we age and discover how best to live well as we get older.

The course is delivered by Dr Peter Grabowski (Sheffield), Professor Mike Trenell (Newcastle) and Dr Lesley Iwanejko (Liverpool). Together, these expert academics help learners from all over the world understand ageing and the musculoskeletal system, including the impact of physical activity (and inactivity) on bones, muscles and joints, and the most important nutritional factors for a healthy musculoskeletal system.

Development of the course was led by Professor Ilaria Bellantuono from the Medical School, with production by David Holloway, Laura Giles and the Digital Learning Team at the University.

Professor Ilaria Bellantuono said: “We’re delighted at the recognition that this course has received, especially as it was voted for by learners. We think this speaks volumes about the relatability of the course content; that it has a strong scientific unpinning, but also practical information that learners can apply to their everyday lives.”

Peter Grabowski Musculoskeletal Ageing

How to Succeed at: Writing Applications, which was developed by the Careers Service

How to Succeed at: Writing Applications is a three week course developed by the Careers Service that aims to help learners improve their chances of success in getting a job or securing a place on a university course. The course helps applicants identify what recruiters are looking for, understand the skills gained through study or work experience and how to apply this to job applications or course requirements.

Careers Consultant, Marcus Zientek, said: "Literally thousands of people have accessed our MOOCs on making applications and interviews. Covering all forms of applications from CVs and personal statements, to online forms and cover letters, 'How to Succeed at Writing Applications' uncovers the secrets to creating the right impression and making it to interview. The MOOCs have proved to be hugely beneficial to students and graduates of the University and to people across the world, allowing us to bring the expertise of the University's Careers Service to a much wider audience on a 24/7 basis."

The Careers Service also offer an additional online course, How to Succeed at: Interviews that is designed to help applicants prepare for the interview process.

The Careers course team Writing Applications

The latest course from the Digital Learning Team

Supporting Victims of Domestic Violence

The latest course from the Digital Learning Team, Supporting Victims of Domestic Violence, is designed specifically as CPD for health and social care professionals and is now available for enrollments. The course is led by Dr Parveen Ali and Jesrine Clarke-Darrington from the School of Nursing and Midwifery.