Stressed by the pace of modern life? Mindfulness might be the answer. Research shows that when you’re not deliberately paying attention to something, your brain goes into default mode causing increased anxiety and poor communication. On the course Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance by Monash University, learners are encouraged to explore a range of mindfulness techniques and and evaluate their personal impact, coming away with practical tools to help embed the practice in their daily lives. We spoke to Adrian Devey, Director of Monash Online Academic Programs, to find out more about the success of this course.
Can you tell us a bit about this course, who it’s aimed at and what it aims to achieve?
Commencing on 15 June, the Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance course explains the science, practice and philosophy of mindfulness, as well as techniques to reduce stress and improve your wellbeing. These evidence-based approaches have been found to improve mental and physical health, productivity, learning and memory, communication, and empathy.
The beauty of our mindfulness course is that it can help anyone, from students to industry professionals, stay-at-home parents to retirees. No matter your context, the course provides practical steps that you can apply to improve your quality of life.
What has been your experience of running this course online? What differs from a face-to-face course?
The mindfulness course was designed to minimise the differences between learning online and face-to-face, with expert facilitated discussions, timely feedback videos, as well as engaging content and extra resources.
However, a benefit of the online delivery for this course, is that you can engage in mindfulness and meditation practices from the privacy of your own home, removing the self-consciousness that some might feel when attending meditation workshops or learning about the topic face-to-face.
We recently introduced ratings and reviews to FutureLearn short courses. The Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance has already clocked up hundreds of reviews in a very short space of time with an outstanding average rating of 4.8 stars out of 5. What factors do you feel have made this course so successful?
We’re thrilled with the ratings and reviews this course has received so far. Our Lead Educators, Associate Professor Craig Hassed and Dr Richard Chambers are both internationally renowned experts and active researchers in the field. The evidence-based, and practical approach of the course have contributed to its success.
Our course mentors are very active and supportive of learners who are new to the practice of mindfulness. The result is a very strong sense of community within the course, despite the large numbers of learners.
The feedback video model has also worked so well for the mindfulness courses that we’ve replicated this for all Monash University FutureLearn courses.
In the current climate, mental wellbeing is in the spotlight more than ever. What role do you feel free-to-access resources can play in supporting the wellbeing of the general public?
The mindfulness course is a free resource, providing the public with easily accessible tools to support their wellbeing.
“It’s a very trying time for people all around the world and perhaps we need something to help us through,” Associate Professor Hassed says.
“Mindfulness won’t make the situation go away, but it can certainly help us to keep calm and cope a whole lot better.”
Alongside the course content, we release weekly feedback videos on our YouTube channel, where our lead educators respond directly to student queries, and address relevant contemporary issues in the media, such as the anxiety everyone is feeling from COVID-19. This gives students a sense of connection with lead educators, and makes the course relevant to our current situation.
What have been some of your key learnings from running this course?
With over 330,000 enrolments since 2015, the Mindfulness course has taught us that there is a significant demand for online learning, and that this mode of teaching and learning can deliver exceptional outcomes for learners even in subjects that you might not think would translate to online. As mentioned above, we’ve learned that engaging content, responsive lead educators and a sense of community amongst learners are all critical success factors.