Australia's first open and free online learning platform has achieved 100,000 enrolments, with 53,000 students since it was launched just seven months ago.
An offshoot of Open Universities Australia, Open2Study (https://www.open2study.com/) has lured more students to its courses than any university in the country, drawing them from more than 180 nations.
In April, Open2Study began offering 10 free subjects, each taking four weeks to complete. It now has 32 courses available with 60 per cent of students enrolling from a mix of overseas countries, the top five being the US, India, Britain, Spain and Canada.
The Open2Study platform is also Australia's first free online education provider and, like its parent OUA, offers anyone anywhere the chance to undertake online tertiary and professional learning through a range of subjects ''designed for everyday people''.
Principles of project management; food, nutrition & your health; writing for the web; user experience for the web; and strategic management currently attract the most students. Lecturers from several universities and TAFE institutions provide the instruction.
Last May the Open2Study project team said completion rates in its courses were more than 25 per cent, or almost four times higher than the industry average and despite research indicating that average rates for so-called massive open online courses, or MOOCs, were below 7 per cent.
''The major challenge for MOOCs and free online education is that despite attracting mass volumes of students, most people fail to complete the course and therefore do not achieve the learning objectives,'' says OUA chief executive Paul Wappett. ''With one in four Open2Study students completing their subjects, we are proud that we are really engaging our students.''
Mr Wappett says he believes OUA ''understood the online student'' and that the results prove Open2Study is delivering an outstanding experience compared with other free online education platforms.
''There are several reasons why Open2Study is different from its competitors and we attribute our early success to the academic quality of our subjects, high production values and, most importantly, our learning, teaching and assessment model, which is designed with the online student in mind,'' he says.
Mr Wappett says the Open2Study platform also enforces a high-quality, consistent learning experience for students and that quality control is proving to be ''very advantageous''.
''Finally, there's our smart classroom design. It leverages social learning and provides an intuitive environment with all the resources students need to successfully complete their study in the one place,'' he says.
With new subjects added almost every month, the Open2Study team expects to have up to 50 free subjects available by the end of this year.
In July, New Zealand's Massey University became Open2Study's first international partner, after establishing a dozen relationships with Australian institutions and universities. Adding the New Zealand university was part of its strategy to provide its global student body with access to international educators, Mr Wappett says.
Open Universities Australia has made enormous progress since it began as a government-backed distance education provider using television programs in 1991. It was renamed Open Learning Australia as enrolments grew, and in 2004 it was granted the right by the federal government to incorporate the term ''university'' in its title and became Open Universities Australia, with enrolments that have more than doubled over the past four years.
More than 55,000 students select from the OUA's 1400 units and 170 qualifications offered by 20 Australian universities and other tertiary education providers, including TAFE institutes.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.