Alexander the MOOC (IHE)

January 20, 2014

By Guy MacLean Rogers

(NB: Guy MacLean Rogers is Kemper Professor of Classics and History at Wellesley College)

2013 was undoubtedly the year of the MOOC.

My year of the MOOC however was way back in 1999. In that year the Global Education Network (GEN) in New York City chose my Wellesley College history course about Alexander the Great to be their first online course.

I subsequently spent many weeks high up in Carnegie Towers on West 57st Street in mid-town Manhattan filming lecture modules, designing inter-active battle sequences, and writing computer-graded exams. It was a fantastic experience.

The finished course was a kind of online space shuttle, built to carry students from around the globe up into the educational stratosphere.

Unfortunately, however, not many people were prepared to come along for the ride. PBS and some community colleges picked up our course. But most colleges and universities were not ready to climb onboard. Faculty led the resistance. Some could not figure out how to operate the course platform. But many simply refused to concede that anyone could learn anything from an online course.

By contrast, now, wherever you go for news about education, there are stories about MOOCS. On TV and radio programs, in journals and newspapers, and in faculty lounges people (including yours truly) are talking about Massive Open Online Courses.

About Ryan C. Fowler

Ryan is a curricular fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C. He also teaches at Franklin and Marshall College and Lancaster Theological Seminary.
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