The Massive Open Online Professor | Academic Matters

Innovative professors at many universities have been experimenting with technology to scale the lecture experience. Often their experiments started in response to increasing numbers of on-campus students. For example, Virginia Tech Professor John Boyer uses virtual office hours, pre-recorded lecture snippets, and Twitter to teach a face-to-face “World Regions” course to 3,000 students. Once a week, he fills the largest lecture hall on campus, but the rest of the course takes place online. It quickly became obvious that the model he developed with his colleague Katie Pritchard could also accommodate thousands of additional online users, who log in to view the lectures or post questions during office hours.While Boyer’s real passion remains the classroom experience, others are moving their entire courses online. The term “massive open online course”, or MOOC coined by Dave Cormier and Bryan Alexander is sometimes used to describe these types of courses, because they: take place online; are open in the sense that participation is typically free of charge and learning materials can be modified, re-used, and distributed to others; and reach massive communities of tens of thousands of learners.MOOCs are a relatively new phenomenon, but they recently captured public attention when Stanford University launched a set of free online courses. Sebastian Thrun, one of the pioneers at Stanford, created the artificial intelligence course that attracted over 160,000 users though only 25,000 finished the course. Inspired by this success he founded Udacity, a for-profit start-up that will use a similar model for online instruction, with the goal of making an entire computer science course available at no cost. Thrun’s Stanford colleagues Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng also participated in the first round of Stanford MOOCs and subsequently spun off Coursera, another for-profit start-up, which aims to provide a platform for other universities to host similar online courses.

via The Massive Open Online Professor | Academic Matters.