Fredrickson said the free course, which is only six weeks long, lets people of all ages from all over the world explore without strict accountability. The course, taught through the website Coursera, doesn’t substitute for a traditional classroom, she said.
“Most people that are enrolled — 95 percent of them — say that they’re interested out of their own curiosity,” she said. “(The course) is applicable to anybody. It’s not necessarily something that people need to get a degree in.”
The class, Fredrickson’s first MOOC, has grown popular since it began on Feb. 9.
“The first week it was adding several thousand a day and this week there’s been several hundred per day,” Fredrickson said. “The last couple days the rate of increase has slowed, but it wouldn’t be surprising for us to pass 50,000.”
Provost Jim Dean said UNC is happy to have an agreement with Coursera.
“They came to us some time ago and asked us if we wanted to cooperate and we do,” Dean said. “UNC asks for proposals from faculty and then we work with the faculty to develop the classes.”
He said he thinks it’s an appropriate time for Fredrickson to be teaching this course at UNC.
“She’s teaching a course on positive psych during a time when UNC is experiencing such tragedy on campus and her students are reaching out to UNC using her courses’ forums,” Dean said, referencing the triple homicide in Chapel Hill earlier this month.