The MOOC featured appearances from several big-name creators including Mark Waid, the current scribe for Marvel’s Daredevil and Hulk comics; Kelly Sue DeConnick, the writer of the now-female version of Captain Marvel; and Brian K. Vaughn, the creator of the series Y: The Last Man, a comic book about the only man left alive in a world of women. Stan Lee provided narration for the course’s promotional video.

When Blanch was first approached about teaching a MOOC, she wasn’t even sure what a MOOC was. She was, however, already using comic books as a teaching tool in the physical classroom, she said, and soon recognized how MOOCs could benefit from their use as well.

“Student’s lives are permeated with so much pop culture that when you use it to teach, it makes the learning relevant, and it gets their attention,” Blanch said. “And I believe that MOOCs with a popular culture element are great for people understanding what a MOOC is.”

William Kuskin, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, launched a MOOC of his own last month through Coursera that examines comic books as literature.

He said that not only does using pop culture elements in a course entice people to try out a MOOC, but that comic books are becoming recognized as a thriving form of literature worth exploring no matter the type of course.

“No society has survived without story and song,” Kuskin said. “Comic books, TV shows, these are the literature of our times. If it’s on television or printed in floppy magazines, we like to say it’s ‘pop culture.’ But it’s really literature, just as much as any medieval illustrated manuscript.”

Follow Jake New on Twitter at @eCN_Jake