By Steve Kolowich
How do you get thousands of people excited about an online course in math, physics, and public health that will not earn them formal credit or any kind of certificate?
First, make it a MOOC.
Second, make the central text a popular TV show.
Third, add zombies.
The University of California at Irvine and Instructure, an education-technology company, are hoping that recipe will produce a successful MOOC. They have collaborated with AMC Networks to offer a massive open online course that uses The Walking Dead, a popular AMC show, as a jumping-off point for Irvine instructors to talk about various topics in mathematics, physics, and public health. Registration opened on Wednesday.
For example, Sarah Eichhorn, a math lecturer at Irvine, plans to use scenarios from the show to talk about how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention use mathematical modeling to predict and contain the spread of infectious diseases through populations. Michael Dennin, a professor of physics and astronomy, will teach a unit on how surviving human beings might continue to produce and harness power amid the infrastructure damage wrought by a zombie apocalypse.
[ Full article available at The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/moocs-meet-the-zombie-apocalypse/46229 ]