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Cornell joins MOOC movement with four new courses

The world of massive open online courses is growing fast, with new colleges and universities entering the scene on a regular basis. The latest entry is Cornell, which plans to launch four MOOCs in spring 2014. Specifically tailored for online degrees, the courses will be offered as a joint venture between Cornell and MOOC powerhouse edX, according to Campus Technology.

Cornell has been in the business of education for almost 150 years. Laura Brown, senior vice provost for undergraduate education and chair of the Distance Learning Committee, sees MOOCs as a great opportunity for the school to expand on its land-grant mission. "With the advent of MOOCs, Cornell adds progression and more modernity to its mission to serve a broad, even global, community of learners," Brown told the Cornell Chronicle. "MOOCs enhance our visibility for potential graduate and undergraduate students, and they open up and model opportunities for innovation in teaching through online methods that have a wide potential impact within and beyond Cornell."

Fifteen courses were proposed and four were chosen to represent Cornell's first foray into MOOCs. The courses that made the cut are:

  • "Relativity and Astrophysics," beginning February 3, explores connections between Einstein's theory of relativity and astronomy, with the intention of providing a deeper understanding of physics and quantitative skills.
  • "Networks," which starts March 7, focuses on how connected we are in the modern world, including study on Internet structure, game theory, social power and popularity, social contagion, and information cascades.
  • "American Capitalism: A History" is scheduled to launch March 17. The course will follow the growth of the United States from a struggling colony to a global force, focusing on the role of capitalism in the evolution of the country.
  • "Wiretaps to Big Data: Privacy and Surveillance in the Age of Complete Interconnection" will begin on March 2. This course will take a look at surveillance in the cellular age, what technologies make surveillance possible, privacy concerns, and how systems of surveillance affects our democratic institutions.

In addition to these courses, the Cornell Chronicle reports instructors are invited to propose MOOCs for the 2014-2015 school year, develop online modules or courses for the edX Edge platform, or apply for grants to support distance learning projects independent of edX. Expect new MOOCs and other distance learning opportunities to be announced over the coming semesters.


Sources:
"Cornell Enters MOOC Arena with 4 Courses," campustechnology.com, October 3, 2013, Joshua Bolkan
"Cornell's first four MOOCs to launch next semester," news.cornell.edu, October 9, 2013, Blaine Friedlander