Notre Dame opens online courses
Peter Durbin | Sunday, January 18, 2015
The newest form of a Notre Dame education is now accessible through the University’s first set of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), currently available for registration through the online learning platform edX’s website.
The courses, created in a joint venture between Notre Dame faculty and the Office of Digital Learning, will be offered through a partnership with edX.
Course operations coordinator Sonia Howell, who works in the Office of Digital Learning, explained that the courses came to fruition after talking to faculty.
“We went through the process of sending out feelers to faculty who may be interested,” she said. “Interested faculty submitted proposals that were reviewed by faculty boards, who decided on which courses would be offered.”
Howell said the decision-making process required sifting through applications of some “superstar” professors.
According to the College of Science press release, vice president and associate provost Dan Myers will teach “I ‘Heart’ Stats,” theology professors Gary Anderson and John Cavadini will teach “Jesus in Scripture and Tradition,” engineering professors J. Nicholas Laneman and Aaron D. Striegel, finance professor Barry Keating and law professor Patricia L. Bellia will teach “Understanding Wireless” and physics professor Mike Hildreth and math professor Annette Pilkington will offer “Math in Sports.”
“All four inaugural courses are aimed at a global and nonspecialist audience,” according to the press release.
Employees of Harvard and MIT founded the edX platform, Howell said.
“Schools that use the courses include California-Berkeley, Georgetown and Dartmouth,” she said.
The company was founded as a way to extend the vision edX CEO Anant Agarwal’s vision of a world in which education is a basic human right.
“Notre Dame’s courses on the edX platform deliver on the promise we make as a University — to advance learning in the service of human flourishing both here on campus and in the wider world,” said Elliott Visconsi, the University’s chief academic digital officer.
According to the company’s website, edX has awarded more than 100,000 certificates to individuals who have completed their series of necessary coursework. This does not include the vast number of students who fulfill course requirements for their own enjoyment instead of earning the certificate.
Melissa Dinsman, a projects and operations manager in the Office of Digital Learning said she doesn’t imagine a time when online education will replace a campus-based learning environment.
“We don’t envision a time when [education is obtained solely through] an online institution,” Dinsman said. “We’re not going to take away that traditional environment, but the online elements can be used to enhance those traditional learning environments.”
Howell said she hopes to see the day when online aspects of education are utilized to their full potential.
“We aim to improve the visual aspects of education that can be used to enhance student learning here on campus,” she said.