Press Release Archive

University of Sheffield and Dublin Institute of Technology to Run MOOCs with Blackboard

DIT Effort is the First MOOC Launched by an Irish Institution

AMSTERDAM—May 13, 2013

Dublin Institute of Technology and the University of Sheffield will launch massive open online courses ("MOOCs") on CourseSites™, Blackboard’s free, fully hosted and supported cloud-based learning system, the company announced today. DIT’s MOOC will be the first run by an Irish university.

Officials of both schools decided to use CourseSites for MOOCs to leverage Blackboard’s latest technology for course management, Web conferencing and mobile learning. The ability to brand courses to the university instead of a third-party company was an important factor for DIT, and both schools highly valued the platform’s wide range of features like discussion boards, blogs and other social learning tools.

DIT’s MOOC—"So You Want to Work in the Pharmaceutical Industry?"—will run for three weeks starting May 13 and will focus on pharmaceutical quality and regulation, manufacturing technologies and risk management. As the industry is a bright spot in the Irish economy, DIT academics decided to create a MOOC on pharmaceuticals to give people the opportunity to start thinking about a new career.

Course content for DIT’s MOOC is based on an existing online course created by university partner DPS Engineering. Course content will be delivered through lectures live-streamed over Blackboard Collaborate™ sessions, videos through CourseSites’ integration with Kaltura and detailed notes and practical examples.

The University of Sheffield will run three five-week-long MOOCs on public health topics. Its School of Health and Related Research decided to run MOOCs to give prospective students a sample of the unique brand of distance learning offered on its Masters courses. Sheffield’s first MOOC—"Sustainable Healthy Diets"— begins June 17 and already has over 500 registrants from 52 countries. MOOCs on Health Inequalities and Health Technology Assessment will follow.

"Our instructors are incredibly enthusiastic to take their knowledge to a larger audience, and we knew we needed to choose a platform that would provide the greatest amount of flexibility to design courses, and the tools to make them exceptional," said Kevin O’Rourke, head of eLearning support & development at DIT. "As we are the first Irish institution to launch a MOOC, having the expertise of an industry leader like Blackboard behind our project is all the more important."

"Like a lot of institutions right now, we wanted to experiment with MOOCs, and we wanted to use our expertise in running online Masters courses to develop MOOCs," said Luke Miller, learning technologist at the University of Sheffield. "Choosing to run MOOCs on CourseSites gave us the ability to launch quickly and with minimal training since our faculty are already familiar and comfortable with the Blackboard Learn™ platform."

Prospective students can enroll in DIT’s MOOC here, and in Sheffield’s first MOOC here. To see a full list of MOOCs on CourseSites, visit the CourseSites MOOC Catalog at

Over 60,000 instructors and half a million users from over 159 countries are using CourseSites to support online courses. For more information about CourseSites, please visit

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