School’s in for summer as PM&C launches red tape MOOC

By Stephen Easton

Tuesday December 8, 2015

A training course in the wonky art of regulatory impact analysis — through the frame of the federal government’s war on red tape — is now open to anybody, free of charge.

The launch of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s first massive, open, online course (MOOC) has been expected since June when the course provider, OpenLearning, excitedly announced it had won the contract.

The course, entitled How good policy is made: The Australian Government guide to regulation with rigour, is now live.

The MOOC is teaching a skill mostly relevant to federal public servants, who have been working to new regulatory guidelines introduced by the government in its Cutting Red Tape program before the course was developed. However, it can be altered for specific regulatory policies in other jurisdictions in Australia and overseas, and offer different content to specific groups of users.

“It’s actually a course on problem solving, developing analytical skills, and creating meaningful solutions to problems through in-depth and impartial analyses,” explains a cheerful woman named Monica in the new MOOC’s introductory video. “These are skills that can be applied to any area of your life,” she says somewhat optimistically.

OpenLearning says having a free, public course enhances transparency about how regulations are devised, as well as allowing the government to offer the simple online training modules to public servants on a huge scale at reasonably low cost.

There is also diplomatic value, particularly within the Asia-Pacific region, in extending Australia’s high standards of public policy development to other nations.

While any online training course can offer easy communication and collaboration with other students, there is no cap to the number who can join a MOOC so the community that forms around the course can potentially become very large.

After they learn about how the impact of regulation is considered in the Commonwealth and the Council of Australian Governments, course participants will produce their own regulatory impact statement for a fictional scenario.

PM&C’s MOOC had almost hit 200 students when The Mandarin looked this afternoon, but there is no limit to how many can join and the course is expected to run for a few years at least.

OpenLearning’s platform has also been used by the University of New South Wales, where most of its executives studied, as well as the Australian Institute of Sport and in 21 Malaysian universities.

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