Supercomputing MOOC: learning at scale!

Author: Jane Kennedy
Posted: 6 Sep 2018 | 13:05

What is a MOOC, you ask? The answer is, it's a Massively Open Online Course, and EPCC's Supercomputing MOOC will start on 24th September.

Our MOOC was first launched in June 2017. Since then, it's had another two successful runs, and we're now making preparation for a fourth - not a bad year's work!

It's a great opportunity for anyone who wants to learn about supercomputing. It's free and accessible to anyone online - last year we had learners from 139 different countries! No programming skills are required - the course materials are a mixture of articles, videos (starring EPCC's David Henty), and discussion with course Educators: myself and Weronika Filinger. The MOOC also emphasises the importance of participants learning from one another to help them consolidate what they've learned, and to have more fun in the process.

Course content

The topics covered are the same as in previous runs, spread across five weeks:

  1. Supercomputer terminology
  2. Parallel computers, with a focus on hardware
  3. Parallel computing
  4. Computer simulations

The final week comprises case studies featuring different applications of high performance computing that help bring earlier topics to life.

We are making some changes to the materials: in the previous run, there was a noticeable decline in the number of Learner comments for sections where we hadn't included any questions for discussion. We're now in the process of adding these for every section we can to help promote interaction with the Educators, and more importantly, other readers. We also noticed a drop-off in comments where we hadn't explicitly invited them, and we are hoping to minimise this as far as possible!

We have also made content 'open' for the first time, so prospective Learners can have a sneak peek at course materials from each week. Why not have a look for yourself? You can find our MOOC at https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/supercomputing

Our Supercomputing MOOC was created in collaboration with SURFsara in the Netherlands with funding from PRACE.

Author

Jane Kennedy, EPCC