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International award for online innovation

By Leanne Coleman

Chris Darwin, the great great grandson of Charles Darwin Chris Darwin, the great great grandson of Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin University has further affirmed its place as a world-leading online education provider after receiving two international awards for its innovative course on naturalist Charles Darwin and the unique biodiversity of northern Australia.

CDU was recognised at the annual Blackboard Catalyst Awards for its first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) entitled “Charles Darwin, Evolution and Tropical Australia”,  receiving a 2014 Exemplary Course Award and a Directors Choice for Courses with Distinction.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Academic Professor Martin Carroll said the international awards were exceptional recognition of CDU’s dedication to innovative on-line learning.

“This is truly significant for our team, with thousands of institutions competing in this space,” Professor Carroll said.

“The team of multimedia developers, researchers and teaching staff designed the course to cater to a global audience in an open educational environment,” Professor Carroll said. “With more than 400 people from 30 countries undertaking the course, participants could not only interact with others around the world, but also personalise their own learning journey.”

Professor Carroll said that the four-part course featured interactive animations, models and timelines, layered maps, online quizzes, webinars and stimulating videos featuring a range of experts including Chris Darwin, the great great grandson of Charles Darwin. 

Participants could take a journey through Darwin's life and discoveries via an interactive timeline and map chronicling his voyage on the HMS Beagle, as they made their way around the world and watch animation videos on natural selection.

He said the awards recognised the university's strong leadership in supporting education and training using world-leading methods to enhance the experience for students.

“CDU has been very successful in expanding access to its educational offerings through the effective use of online technologies,” he said. “All students, whether on campus or on-line from across the globe, benefit in their studies from use of these learning technologies.”

The next offering of the “Charles Darwin, Evolution and Tropical Australia” MOOC will be in July 2014. For more information visit W: