Pitt revisits free open online courses

22 Feb

University of Pittsburgh Nursing Assistant Prof. Michael Beach sits for a portrait in his office surrounded by items referred to in his massive open online course (MOOC) that he offers on Disaster Preparedness. His laptop, playing one of the disaster readiness videos seen in his class material, sits on top of a box of MRE’s. Pitt began offering the free Internet-based classes last year to people around the world. Thousands of people from all over the world took Beach’s course, and it is the first of Pitt’s offerings to launch a second round beginning in late January.
[ Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review ]

By Jason Cato

More than 210,000 people signed up when the University of Pittsburgh offered its first five massive open online courses last year.

Though that was more than 11 times the number of students enrolled at the Oakland campus, there is little chance the broad-based, distance learning courses, known as MOOCs, will soon replace traditional learning, school officials said. There is a good chance, though, that these online courses can teach schools better ways to connect technology and education.

“I think for us at Pitt, we are really focused on using technology to enhance learning,” said Cynthia Golden, director of the Center for Instructional Development & Distance Education. “MOOCs are just one of the tools we have.”

The free, mass classes are designed to offer education online to anyone, anywhere without limits on class size.

On Jan. 27, Pitt started its second round of MOOCs by relaunching the disaster preparedness course offered in 2013. Two other courses from the first round are scheduled to be revisited this year: “A Look at Nuclear Science and Technology” in March and “Nutrition and Physical Activity for Health” in June.

“I learned a lot, and it was lots of work. But I loved doing it,” said Michael Beach, an assistant professor in Pitt’s nursing school who teaches the disaster preparedness MOOC. “Students can do this any time. If they miss a week, they can jump back in.”

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Posted by on February 22, 2014 in MOOCs in the News


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