May 2 sees the launch of "The Vedas and Upanishads" the second of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies online courses. Enrolments and more information are now available at www.ochs.org.uk/external/courses
The first course, "Understanding Hindu Identity", officially launched in February and was taken by more than 30 students worldwide. So far about a third of those students have already signed up for the new course: "A good uptake", says the Continuing Education Department's Dr Nick Sutton, "which reflects well on the experience students have had, specifically with the online forums, which enable an excellent learning community to develop over a relatively short period." The "Understanding Hindu Identity" course will also be run again at the same time as the new course.
OCHS online courses are taught as seven weekly units with five additional weeks to write a paper (for students who wish to receive accreditation). Each unit contains video, audio, and written materials and the course is home to a discussion forum that allows students to share thoughts and queries with each other and with tutors.
Seed funding for these courses was provided by a number of visionary donors and the course is now beginning to pay its own way allowing for further development of the Continuing Education Department.
Planned developments include summer schools, business and leadership courses, and continued rollout of online courses with a third course "Mahabharata and Ramayana" launching in October. As each new course is launched it is planned that all previous courses will be taught again at the same time so that in October there will be three courses running with the aim of having six consecutive courses running by late 2010.