When Professors John Hoberman and Daniel Bonevac sat down with a small development team in January to create two new online courses, the possibilities of “what if” and “could we” electrified the room.
The goal: to deliver 72 hours of traditional coursework in an engaging and interactive format via the Web. Five months later, as the heat of summer and deadline approached and the realities of limited time, resources, and the ever-changing landscape of technology started to set in, someone uttered: “It’s the World Wild West.”
These are digital pioneers of the university’s newest development in a long tradition of technology- enhanced learning. They are moving forward into uncharted territory: an online course that will seek to instruct more than 30,000 students at once from all over the world. Moreover, this MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is just one of the many directions that the university is heading, including flipped classrooms and SMOCs (Synchronous Massive Online Courses). They are all designed to enhance online and blended learning, often using methods that combine digital with face-to-face interaction.
We can look to the past for models, but it is clear that the time and place for learning is changing. Many faculty members are leading mixed teams of staff and student assistants to experiment with e-learning and explore what will work best with their students both on and off campus.