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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Despite popularity, experts remain divided on MOOCs

"Duke's popularity in Massive Open Online Courses is booming, but the University remains divided on whether or not to offer course credit" summarizes Neelesh Moorthy.

Beginning in Fall 2015, there will be a total of 42 MOOCs offered by Duke faculty through Coursera. 
Photo: Duke Chronicle

“In terms of the number of Coursera courses produced, Duke is one of the top 10 schools,” said Lynne O’Brien, associate vice provost for digital and online education initiatives. “Out of the top 20 Coursera courses of all time, Duke has three of those.”

These large online offerings, more commonly known as MOOCs, are on the rise as more and more universities embrace their potential to provide quality learning for greater audiences, often free of charge. Coursera is an online interface for offering courses to an international audience.

Beginning in Fall 2015, there will be a total of 42 MOOCs offered by Duke faculty through Coursera—up from the 33 offered in the 2014-15 academic year.

This growth has been met with mixed feedback. Some Duke professors have found that teaching MOOCs has changed the way they structure their on-campus curriculums. As the medium has grown, however, there remain questions about these courses’ academic viability and eligibility for college credit.

Amid this uncertainty, some educators see a space for innovation. O’Brien added that Duke continues to encourage faculty to experiment with this new educational forum.

“Every year for the last three years, we’ve done a call for proposals where faculty could say different types of online courses they’d like to try,” O’Brien said. “Faculty who are interested in doing something can get support and funding and help getting started.”

For some, the advantages of MOOCs include being able to reach a larger audience that would not necessarily be able to pursue a traditional education. When Mine Cetinkaya-Rundel, assistant professor of statistical science, created her Coursera course, “Data Analysis and Statistical Inference,” she kept in mind international and domestic audiences that might lack access to quality teaching material.

Source: Duke Chronicle