Faculty take the lead in creating GW’s first MOOCs

GW is guiding a handful of professors to create massive open online courses, which could start teaching students from around the world by the end of the academic year, The GW Hatchet reports.

Paul Schiff Berman, vice provost for online education and academic innovation, said MOOCs – free, not-for-credit classes – allow faculty to “reach a larger audience” and share information with those who have little access to education.

“MOOCs should be about faculty empowerment, faculty members who want to experiment with a different modality of education,” Berman said. “I want to provide a way for them to do it.”

The University announced last winter that it would start to plan its own set of free online courses, which have multiplied at top universities like Harvard and Northwestern universities. Now, those plans are taking shape, with subjects like nursing and political management pegged as some of GW’s first MOOCs.

Berman said he hopes to eventually start programs tailored for audiences in developing countries. For example, he cited a possible School of Nursing-led course on neonatal care that would be slower-paced and involve more background exercises than a typical class.

GW is late to the free online education craze. MOOCs, which are often taught by star professors, attracted international media attention last year by drawing thousands of signups.

But some universities that rushed to start their own programs lost faculty support along the way. San Jose State University paused its MOOC program this summer after two semesters.

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