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Behind the scenes at the University of Reading

The University of Reading team behind the ‘Begin programming: Build your first Mobile Game’ course, which starts on October 28 on FutureLearn.com, gives an insight into the development process. Find out what it takes to make a MOOC!

We’re proud to be delivering a course that makes programming accessible and opens up this exciting subject to a new audience. In the digital age, programming is integral to almost everything we do. Programs help us in our work and play on computers, mobiles and tablets – as well as in things you wouldn’t think of like a journey on the bus or using the dishwasher.

Here at the University of Reading, we’re very excited about the launch of our course on 28th October, especially as we have thousands of learners on board! It’s great to be part of FutureLearn and to be one of the first courses to launch.

We’re not only offering something new for our learners, but offering free online courses is an interesting new project for us and one that we hope will allow us to reach many more people. As our Vice Chancellor, Sir David Bell recently said: ‘Offering free taster courses online is a no-brainer… Making courses accessible online, on mobiles and tablets means that people can fit their studying around their lives, rather than their lives around study.”

We are (from the left):

  • Professor Shirley Williams, Professor of Learning Technologies at the School of Systems Engineering, who has been managing the project at this end and keeping everything on track.
  • Luke Micallef, the University’s Open Online Course Developer, who works with our academic teams to plan and develop the courses and create content.
  • Dr Tharindu Liyanagunawardena, Sessional Lecturer and Research Assistant at the School of Systems Engineering, who has worked with Karsten to create the academic content.
  • Dr Karsten Lundqvist, Teaching Fellow at the School of Systems Engineering, who created the course and will be your video guide.
A composite photo of the team – it’s very hard to get us all together in the same place at the same time!
A composite photo of the team – it’s very hard to get us all together in the same place at the same time!

For the past few months, we’ve been developing and creating the course content, talking to our friends at FutureLearn, filling in lots and lots of templates, attending and presenting at update meetings, checking in with quality assurance, doing lots of planning– and of course, creating the videos and other content you’ll see on the course.

Karsten is a natural in front of the camera (we think the fact he spent 11 years as a salesman probably helps!), and he and Luke have spent a lot of time together recently shooting scenes in the state-of-the-art filming studio owned by the University’s Department of Film, Theatre & Television.

FTT-behind-scenes

The scenes were filmed in front of a green screen as you can see below.

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The whole process has been a steep learning curve for us all, but it’s also been great fun – and has reminded us of what a great team we have to work with and just how much we love what we do!

We have recruited and trained a group of our upper year undergraduates to help support the course in the role of mentors. They all have experience in programming and using the Android SDK, so they will be able to help you if there are any technical niggles or programming bugs. It’s fantastic experience for them to be involved in one of the first FutureLearn MOOCs and they are all very excited to get started. We’ll all be on hand behind the scenes too if you need us.

As mentioned, our October course is already full (to our delight), but you can still sign up as we’ll be running this course again in Early 2014. We’re really looking forward to meeting you all and helping you to get the most out of our course.

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