UVa Online Courses Running Smoothly

By: Suzanne Wilson Email
By: Suzanne Wilson Email

February 5, 2013

Two of UVa.'s massive open online courses (MOOCS) are up and running but the online based company, Coursera, is receiving some bad publicity. This past weekend one of the online courses at Georgia Tech was suspended due to lack of organization. UVa. says their classes have only generated good news.

Kristin Palmer, the UVa. Online Learning Environment Program Director, said, "It's been a phenomenal experience. We have about 45,000 students enrolled in that class and one of the most active discussion boards is an appreciation board talking about how thankful students are around the world for having this content out there."

The six online courses UVa. is offering has already enrolled 300,000 students. Currently, there are only two classes in session and the other four are expected to start in the next couple of months. With classes of this size, there is a lot of room for error but Palmer said that hasn't been a problem, "We've had no technical glitches at all. It's been very smooth and we've had great student response"

For UVa. it may be smooth sailing but there were some issues with a course offered by Georgia Tech that caused Coursera to suspend it. So, what is UVa. doing to prevent this from happening to them.

Palmer explained, "Our team has been working with Coursera and our partner institutions to come up with the best practices in this space and try to have lessons learned. There is certainly some trial and error expected. This is a new innovative technology so it comes with the territory."

Tyler Frankenberg is a student in a course discussing the growth of small businesses. He says the online course has been a rewarding experience so far.

Frankenberg said, "I am devoting time out of my busy work week because I think that this material is valuable to what I do."

Frankenberg is making his 70,000 student class more personal by organizing a small study group here in Charlottesville. He said, "We had ten people show up to our first meeting and we are expecting many more tonight. It has been a really, really good supplement to the online lectures and the online readings."

For any students in the classes or someone interested in learning more about them, Palmer has organized a "Meet Up" for the Charlottesville Coursarian this Saturday, February 9, at Para Coffee

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