Reporting back from MOOC-Landia

We’re now halfway through my six-week Coursera MOOC (massive open online course), 21st Century American Foreign Policy (#AFP 21), about which I’d written for HuffPost on the eve of its launch, The Huffington Post reports.

I want to share some of the experience thus far.

Enrollment is pretty global; check out this map representing a portion of the 20,000+ students. I do get more international students in my classes at Duke than I used to, but this is orders of magnitude beyond that.

True, intensity of interaction is not the same as in on-campus, for-credit, degree-granting courses (thoughts on this aspect of high-tech higher-ed in my prior piece). This is a non-credit, continuing-ed type of course. But here too technology helps a bit. We’ve done one Google Hangout, with about 15 students hooked in live and others watching the streaming; we’ll be doing another this week and one at the end of the course, varying the time of day to accommodate the different time zones of our global student body.

Mine is one of the courses on which the State Department is partnering with Coursera. A few days ago we did a live session coordinated by the U.S. Beijing embassy and Shanghai and Guangzhou consulates with Chinese students taking the course. I’ve also gotten some Tweets from the U.S. Embassy in Finland about students they are working with.

And then there are the comments from students on the message board about the value of the opportunity to them, which without any claim to being a representative sample, are affirming and gratifying as to any teacher.

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