• UCSC's first online course on the Holocaust draws 18K students

    SANTA CRUZ -- UC Santa Cruz's first free course offered on the online Coursera platform has drawn more 18,000 participants, exceeding expectations by instructors of the 10-week literature and history class on the Holocaust."I'm a great believer and am happy this is going on," said professor Peter Kenez, who along with professor Murray Baumgarten have taught the popular course to 300 students at UCSC for decades."All of the student reactions are very positive."Coursera offers more than 400 free courses from more than 60 universities, and students can earn certificates of completion after receiving peer-graded work. UCSC launched the course in July after announcing in February that it was one of four UC campuses that would partner with Coursera, which recently announced $43 million in venture capital investment to support growth....

  • Just How Many History MOOCs are Being Offered Now, Anyway?

    by David Austin Walsh

    Though many historians are nervous about the potential massive disruption in higher education due to the proliferation of massive online education courses, only a handful of MOOCs are actually dedicated to history. Of four of the largest MOOC providers survey -- Coursera, edX, Udacity, and Semester Online -- only eight history courses actually taught by history faculty are being offered. Popular MOOC provider Coursera only has two dedicated history courses taught by historians open for registration as of June 9, though at least one additional class is in development.EdX, the non-profit MOOC established by Harvard and MIT, also offers eight history classes, but most have a classics or literature focus and are taught by professors from classics, English, or area studies departments. Udacity does not offer history or traditional humanities courses at all, focusing instead on STEM and social science courses.

  • Coursera Contract with UT System Released; History Chair Says No MOOCs at Knoxville This Fall

    by David Austin Walsh

    The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee system, will not be providing massive online open courses for the Silicon Valley tech startup Coursera in the coming semester, says UT Knoxville history department chair Thomas Burman.“This decision does not affect us at all,” he wrote in an email.Only two classes will be offered on the Coursera platform across the entire UT system in fall 2013: an introductory music course at the Martin campus, and freshman English composition at UT Chattanooga.The Tennessean reports that the Coursera partnership is an internal pilot program designed to familiarize faculty with online courses and new technology. The courses offered by the program will only be available on a for-credit basis to already-enrolled UT students.No history courses are planned to be offered under the program.“When the topic [of online education] came up for a wide-ranging discussion among campus leadership [in 2011],” Bruman wrote, “the widely-shared view, including among the central academic administrators, was that on-line teaching has a place in a limited number of areas here, especially in the professional schools, but is not what this campus is about.”

  • Why MOOCs are Like the Music Industry

    by Alex Sayf Cummings

    Every year, I have students in my media history class break into two teams. One side has to argue that the media in America have become more homogenous and monopolized by a small handful of corporate interests -- the Viacoms and Murdochs of the world, and possibly the Koch brothers (if they can get their hands on the Los Angeles Times).The other team argues the counterpoint -- that despite the consolidation of radio stations, newspapers, and other traditional media by a few big corporations, the media have actually grown more open and diverse over the last thirty years, with the proliferation of cable, video, blogs, tweets and texts and so forth. Consumers have more options, not less.

  • Historians at MOOC Partner Schools Say Faculty Not Consulted

    by David Austin Walsh

    Image via Shutterstock.“When colleges and universities finally decide to make full use of the Internet,” Randall Stross, a professor of business at San Jose State, wrote back in 2011, “most professors will lose their jobs.”With the proliferation of massive online open courses (MOOCs), Stross wrote in an email to HNN, that time may have come.On May 30, Coursera, the Silicon Valley MOOC provider founded by Stanford University computer scientists in 2012, announced that it had just signed agreements with ten state universities systems to produce and share online courses for credit.The signatories are the University of Colorado, the University System of Georgia, the University of Houston system, the University of Kentucky, the University of Nebraska system, the University of New Mexico system, the State University of New York system, the University of Tennessee system and the Tennessee Board of Regents system, and West Virginia University.