University Joins Online Course Program
Emory will become one of 33 universities worldwide this spring to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs), the University announced Wednesday.
Coursera, a social entrepreneurship company, partners with universities — such as Emory — around the world to offer free online courses, according to the Coursera website.
Individuals around the world who enroll in these courses watch lectures online and complete interactive exercises but will not receive course credit at the University.
The purpose of the program, Coursera’s website states, is to enable “the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students.” The length of courses can last from four to 12 weeks.
Prior to Coursera, Emory offered online courses only in the Candler School of Theology and the Rollins School of Public Health.
The Candler School of Theology launched a two-day-a-week program for Master of Divinity (MDiv) students last fall.
The online program featured online courses and hybrid classes, according to a Jan. 24 Wheel article, but did not extend beyond the MDiv degree program.
The Rollins School of Public Health launched a distance-learning career masters program, offering the Masters in Public Health (MPH) degree in an online format.
“[Coursera] is a remarkable opportunity to extend our impact by offering learners everywhere in the world the chance to experience a rich and diverse sampler of Emory faculty and course topics,” Earl Lewis, Emory’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said in the press release. “At the same time, we also anticipate learning lessons of our own from this experience, as we consider future ways in which digital communications might build on and enhance our existing campus-based programs.”
Emory’s course offerings are being developed in collaboration with the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence (CFDE) and the Emory Center for Interactive Teaching, which is supported by the Office of Information Technology, according to the press release.
Emory will offer three courses this spring, focusing on digital music, immigration and AIDS.
Most Coursera online courses include one to two hours of a video lecture as well as readings and resources available online, in addition to online quizzes and exercises, according to the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence website.
Professor of Music Steve Everett, who will teach “Introduction to Digital Sound Design,” said in the press release that Coursera makes “education accessible to everyone around the world, and seeing our vision come to life has been an incredible experience.”
His course will provide an overview of the basic principles of sound as well as factors that determine audio perception, according to the course syllabus. The session will last for three to fours hours each week for four weeks.
“We in higher education do have an opportunity to help people in societies around the world — particularly in areas that have no access to universities of their own — to better their lives, while at the same time exploring ways to enhance the value of our core programs,” Everett said in the press release.
In addition to Everett’s program, Professor of Law Polly Price will teach “Immigration and U.S. Citizenship,” which will examine U.S. laws pertaining to citizenship and the government’s role in regulating immigration.
Price wrote in an email to the Wheel that she decided to teach a class through Coursera because she looks forward to teaching about citizenship and immigration law “specifically for the non-specialist, non-lawyer student.”
“While I have spoken and written about these subjects in many venues, my teaching audience to date has been almost exclusively law students and lawyers,” she wrote.
Everett’s course will last for six weeks and will meet for three to four hours a week.
Additionally, Assistant Director of the Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) at Emory Kimberly Hagen will teach a course titled “AIDS,” which will focus on controversies surrounding HIV/AIDS in the past, present and future.
The course will take place for three to four hours a week, for nine weeks.
Hagen wrote in an email to the Wheel that CFAR will be the first of the 21 Centers for AIDS Research funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH) to sponsor a MOOC course on HIV/AIDS.
“Higher visibility for HIV/AIDS research at Emory University [is] a personal opportunity to help the lay public gain a clearer, a more comprehensive and a deeper understanding of HIV/AIDS history, science and impact,” Hagen wrote.
The professors participating in the MOOCs said Emory’s participation will benefit students. Hagen described MOOCs as “a natural extension of the digital-information age.”
In addition, Price said MOOCs can introduce important subjects to people in various stages of life.
“I define ‘students’ broadly — adult learners, especially, who want to expand their knowledge in various ways,” she wrote.
A full slate of Emory Coursera courses will become available once the three pilot courses are complete at the end of the spring, according to the CFDE website.
The CFDE, Emory Center for Interactive Teaching and University Technology Services are evaluating ways to assist faculty in producing online materials for MOOCs.
“Over the coming months, we will continue to focus on bringing the best educational content and support systems to people around the world so that they can continue to enrich their lives through learning,” Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera, said in the University press release.
— By Jordan Friedman