A year ago, UC Irvine plunged into an experimental online teaching model that allowed hundreds of thousands of students around the world to take university courses for free.

No one knew if these classes, called massive open online courses, would attract serious students, or if UCI faculty could teach to such a large, diverse audience, or if the online class forums would dissolve into chaos. Despite some bumps, though, UCI officials say they’ve been pleasantly surprised by the outcomes for these noncredit courses, which rely mostly on prerecorded lecture videos, computerized grading and little faculty interaction, the Orange County Register reports.

“We positioned ourselves as someone willing to try something new and share experiences,” said Gary Matkin, dean of UCI’s continuing education, distance learning and summer session divisions. “We’re in this sort of experimental phase of innovation.” The 13 MOOCs offered so far – including one based on the cable TV hit show “The Walking Dead” – have generally earned high marks from participants, according to student feedback.

 

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