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Reading launches first MOOC - 'Build your first mobile game'

Reading's first MOOC will teach basic computer programming

Update 19 September 2013: We are delighted by the huge response to our first ever free online course. Unfortunately we have now filled all the places for the course starting on 28 October 2013. We plan to run the course again from early in 2014 - please do register your interest on the FutureLearn website and we will back in touch.

Thousands of people from around the world will learn to program a mobile computer game thanks to one of the first ever free online short-course offered by the University of Reading.

The Begin Programming: Building Your First Mobile Game course will go live on 28 October - part of the first wave of high quality Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) from 21 top UK universities over the coming months - all offered on the new FutureLearn website launched today and owned by the Open University.

The seven-week course teaches the basics of Java programming to develop a simple computer game from scratch that can run on computer, Android phone or tablet - writing code, creating algorithms to solve problems and taking the first steps with the key tools used by the IT industry worldwide.

Dr Karsten Oster Lundgvist from the School of Systems Engineering will support students throughout the course - with an online forum so people can learn actively through discussion-threads based on the learning material.

It is designed to be a first step or taster for undergraduate computer programme courses; to equip students for studies in maths, science or engineering courses; or as a beginner's course for adult learners interested in getting to grips with basic programming.

The course is available on the FutureLearn website and will be accessible from smart phones, tablets and desktop computers. It will combine video introductions, on-screen examples, articles and discussions to explain the principles behind computer programmes and the building blocks to create them.

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor, said: "Programming is everywhere - from dishwashers to space shuttles. It's ridiculous in the 21st century that computer science still has a geeky reputation. The fact is that it underpins the entire world around us and the IT industry is one of the UK's biggest business success stories.

"People intuitively understand how laptops, computers and mobile technology work but everyone should understand the basic programming behind these devices. This course will teach the key concepts and skills - using logic to solve problems, writing algorithms and creating code. It will equip people of all ages with the essentials and, who knows, spark an enthusiasm that might lead to degree-level study. The course will be of as much interest to school students and undergraduates who want to enhance their knowledge, as it will be to others who are looking to reskill or pursue a new interest.

"Offering free taster courses online is a no-brainer. Universities shouldn't be afraid to open up teaching and research, either in the UK or beyond. Learning never stops and as the economy's demand for higher skills rises, universities should be in the vanguard when it comes to providing new opportunities. Making courses accessible online, on mobiles and tablets means that people can fit their studying around their lives, rather than their lives around study."

The FutureLearn website will run as an open beta until early 2014. Learners will be able to sign up for a selection of courses from FutureLearn's university partners, with learner feedback used to inform the ongoing development of the website. Learners from over 165 countries have registered their interest in taking a course on FutureLearn.

Sir David Bell has been quoted on the BBC New website "UK enters global online university race" >>>

Find out more about MOOCs at Reading >>>

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