MOOCs again for tomorrow

Thanks for such a good discussion in class on Monday. I don’t know about you, but it was my favorite class this semester. You made great points about the future of education and how it may or may not change. It’ll be great to continue it this week.

Yesterday in class, we counted off and I divided you into groups. For tomorrow, please take a few minutes to look at ONE of these MOOC platforms—the one that corresponds to your group’s number (see below). Quickly—it shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes—take a look at your platform, do a little searching online (the NYTimes could be good for this too) and get a handle on the following aspects of the MOOC you’re looking at. (Group 5, you’ll be dealing with press releases and projections, so answer what you can). We’ll bring this back to a discussion in class about MOOCs.

You can then use this exercise as a foundation for your online assignment on Friday. You can choose to leverage the MOOC that you’re looking at rather than the UW-Madison iTunes U page (which is what’s on the syllabus). If you’d like to do so, then please do the following: 

Sign up for a free Coursera, EdX, Udacity or Khan Academy course that is already in session. What are the different elements of the course (videos? podcasts, quizzes, discussions, Meetups…?). View at least two of the video lectures (no longer than 25-30 minutes total). Write a summary & critique of the experience. Some things you might answer: What was the quality of the video and assignments? How lively were the discussion forums? How is the work graded? (Robograding? Peer grading? Something else?) And very importantly: how would a MOOC work at UW-Madison, in light of the kinds of courses you’ve taken so far? Would you take a MOOC for credit? Would it be worth paying for, and why? Should a state university provide this material for free or should they be charging audiences to keep up tuition rates and reduce the taxpayer burden? One-page, single-spaced writeup due Friday in section.


  1. Coursera
  2. EdX
  3. Udacity
  4. Khan Academy
  5. UW-Madison’s MOOC plans

Get a handle on these questions where relevant, if you can:

  • Who started it and when?
  • What subjects are offered?
  • What universities take part?
  • How many courses?
  • How many students?
  • How many people finish? Pass?
  • How much funding have they raised from venture capital?

One thought on “MOOCs again for tomorrow

  1. Coursera was founded in 2012 by computer scientists Andrew Ng and Daphne K. Since its launch in 2012, Coursera has received $16 million in funding from venture capital. The course list is pretty extensive with subjects ranging from simple art classes to applied mathematics. Coursera also offers a ton of science and engineering courses as well as courses in law and business. In February, Coursera brought its total number of courses to 313 with about 2.8 million registered students.
    Some of the world’s most prestigious universities have partnered with Coursera, including Stanford, Princeton, Michigan and University of Pennsylvania. Overall, Coursera has a total of 62 university partners to date. However, The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported that Coursera and its university partners have only given out 280,000 certificates of completion, bringing their “graduation rate” to about 10 percent.

    -Pat McCarthy

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