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UW-Madison launches MOOC for video game enthusiasts

University of Wisconsin-Madison has joined the world of massive open online courses with four new opportunities for students around the globe. The university's first entry into the MOOC scene is "Video Games and Learning," a six-week course that launched on October 3, 2013 through Coursera, UW-Madison News reports.

The online program focuses on the benefits and drawbacks of digital games, current research into gaming, the tensions between youth culture and traditional education, and how to bridge that digital divide. This first course is taught by Kurt Squire, a professor in the UW-Madison School of Education Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and Constance Steinkuehler, an associate professor of digital media. The teachers are also co-directors of the Games+Learning+Society Center in the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery.

Pilot program is first of four new MOOCs

In addition to the "Video Games and Learning" course, UW-Madison will offer three additional courses through Coursera. Over 80,000 students have signed up for the four courses, which all launch during the 2013-2014 school year. According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison News, the other three MOOCs include:

  • Market with Frictions - Intended to make economics more interesting, this course taught by professor Randall Wright focuses on applying economic reasoning methods to current issues and interesting events. Students will be challenged to think analytically about economics and various issues in the business world. This six week course begins on October 30.
  • Globalizing Higher Education and Research for the 'Knowledge Economy' - Taught jointly by UW-Madison geography professor Kris Olds and Susan L. Robertson, professor at University of Bristol in the UK, this course helps students understand how and why universities reach for globalization, the key implications of globalization, and issues related to higher education and research. This course will launch in the spring of 2014 and is expected to last for eight weeks.
  • Human Evolution: Past and Future - This 10 week course opens with an introduction to human origins, including the archaeological and fossil record, then delves into genetic ancestry, ancient populations, and how our history can help determine our future as a species. Instruction is slated to begin January 21, 2014.

Though MOOCs have met their share of controversy, many colleges and universities are embracing them as a way to explore new educational delivery methods. UW-Madison Provost Paul DeLuca sees MOOCs as a complement to traditional education, as well as a way for instructors to learn something new. "It's a bit of an experiment, quite frankly," DeLuca told Wisconsin Public Radio News. "It's a totally different pedagogy." Assuming this first experiment is a success, the university is open to offering more massive open online courses in the future.


Sources:
"First UW-Madison pilot MOOC launches Thursday," University of Wisconsin-Madison News, October 1, 2013, Käri Knutson, http://www.news.wisc.edu/22171
"UW-Madison Launches Its First MOOC Today," Wisconsin Public Radio News, October 3, 2013, Kristen Durst, http://news.wpr.org/post/uw-madison-launches-its-first-mooc-today
"'Video Games and Learning' pilot MOOC launches," University of Wisconsin-Madison News, October 3, 2013, Käri Knutson, http://www.news.wisc.edu/22184