Australian university offers free online course on autism

Melbourne, Australia — Swinburne University is offering a six-week-long online course on autism for free.

Tens of thousands of parents have signed up for the first-ever online course to be offered that focuses on the practical side of caring for children on the autism spectrum.

A team at Swinburne University organized the online course which mainly centers on providing practical help for parents and families of children with ASD. The online course will be preceded by a week of orientation, which the university will also hold online, before the MOOC is officially launched on April 2.

One of the online course’s designers, Emma Donaldson, an education lecturer at Swinburne, said that although a lot of information about autism is already readily available these days, many carers lack practical knowledge and are still in need of practical advice on caring for children on the spectrum. She told:

“The autism MOOC takes a very practical approach to autism…through the lens of inclusivity, fostering understanding and equipping participants with the skills and knowledge to solve practical issues in (their) lives…”

“Our overarching aim is to equip participants with the skills to improve the lives of individuals with autism and their families.”

According to Ms Donaldson, offering the course online would allow for flexibility among carers of children with ASD. The university also hopes for the course to reach carers across different timezones. She further added that users would need to spend approximately two hours a week on the online coirse, although there are no set time limits.

Donaldson says they hope for the online course to be a tool not only for providing practical help for carers, but also as an instrument to build a community of support. She told:

“Our hope is that we are able to build a community of support from this MOOC and that there will be more iterations of the course. In six weeks we can only scratch the surface but if successful we hope to build on its successes.”

Contributed by Althea Estrella Violeta

Source: Danielle Kutchel on The Age Australia website: Parents flock to free online course on autism