ERIC Number: EJ1003437
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Apr-29
My Modern Experience Teaching a MOOC
Roth, Michael S.
Chronicle of Higher Education, Apr 2013
The author's Coursera course, "The Modern and the Postmodern," might have been labeled "course least likely to become a massive open online course (MOOC.)" In many ways, it is an old-fashioned "great books" course, and in the 20 years the author has been teaching it, it has always relied heavily on student interaction in the classroom. Last summer the author's institution, Wesleyan University, where he is president, became the first liberal-arts college to join Coursera. He has been discussing online education with the faculty, students, and board members, and he had a notion that university should start its own program. But after reading about Coursera's success in attracting large numbers of students to courses taught by talented professors at strong universities, it seemed to him that the school should become a partner. If "The Modern and the Postmodern" is an unlikely candidate for a MOOC, he was an equally unlikely candidate to teach one. As a university president, the author doesn't have as much time to devote to teaching as he would like, and taking on this additional assignment, with all its unknown variables, seemed to many in the administration as overly ambitious. In addition, he was no fan of the massive online classes he checked out. It seemed clear to him that whatever learning happened online via lectures, quizzes, and peer-graded essays was very different from what he experienced in residential colleges. The author was surprised that almost 30,000 people enrolled in the course, but he also found the number intimidating. Turns out the "massive" part of these open courses is the least interesting thing about them. His students don't feel like a mass. It's the differences among them, and how they bridge those differences through social networks, that energize their MOOC experience and mine.
Descriptors: Online Courses, Large Group Instruction, College Instruction, Philosophy, Teaching Experience, Electronic Learning, Student Participation, Social Networks
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A