Imagine taking a course with 10,000 classmates.
With a massive online open course — known as a MOOC — this could become a new reality for the higher education world.
Coursera and other MOOC providers have made lectures and course materials from top-ranked universities available free to the general public. UNC launched its first one Monday.
The course, “Metadata: Organizing and Discovering Information,” is taught by Jeffrey Pomerantz, a UNC professor of information science through Coursera. He is one of three UNC instructors offering courses through Coursera this semester.
“It’s very different from teaching a classroom-based course,” Pomerantz said. “There’s a lot of prep time that goes into creating a course, whether it’s a classroom-based course or a MOOC, and the preparation is very different for a MOOC.”
Pomerantz said because the course is still within its first week, it’s difficult to provide much detail about the course experience yet.
He said he does not think MOOCs — should they at some point be offered for credit — would threaten the small size of some classes such as seminars. He said MOOCs would be more applicable for replacing large lectures, such as those with 200 students.
Rep. Marcus Brandon, D-Guilford, a member of the N.C. Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee, said there is a 20-percent increase each year in the number of students taking advantage of online courses.
And Rep. Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke and another member of the joint committee, said he feels that incorporating online coursework is beneficial at all education levels.