June 5, 2013 - Chaouki Abdallah

Last week, UNM was one of ten public higher education systems and institutions that signed an agreement with Coursera to use their platform and services. Since then, many of you have reached out to express both support and dismay about UNM jumping on the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) bandwagon. Today, I would like to start a Massive Open Online Discussion (MOOD) about MOOCs and, furthermore, to make sure that we all share the same information. The agreement with Coursera is not exclusive, and does not obligate our faculty to offer nor to accept a MOOC for credit. In fact, UNM already has an agreement with another provider (Udacity) that was vetted by the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee and the computer science and electrical and computer engineering departments to accept one introductory course for credit at UNM. UNM also has one course available on iTunes and we will probably use other providers and our own platforms to offer future online courses.  

Specific to the Coursera agreement, you can find more information in the guidebook for new instructors.

None of these efforts has greatly disturbed the university model, so what makes the new reincarnation of MOOCs any different? Should we be afraid of them?  I believe that some of our faculty will become pioneers in this new medium and, after the dust settles, MOOCs will retreat to being another tool in our toolbox we can use to engage our students and to increase their success. Some of our students are already using freely available content, and many of our instructors are supplementing their lectures using online resources. What the Coursera agreement provides us is the opportunity to discuss and experiment with the latest incarnation of the online course offering—I do not believe that a college education can be reduced to the passive act of watching an online lecture. Indeed, I know that while some of our faculty and students may use content from other institutions, just like we have used textbooks and other published materials, we will adapt the external content to our ends to provide our students with a more complete educational experience. And, we will generate our own content to be used by many around the globe.

Do you think MOOCs will eventually replace traditional classroom teaching or do you agree with my statement above?