The College of Arts and Architecture has taken an active role in Penn State’s initial offering through Coursera, a massive open online course (MOOC) platform that makes it possible for the University to provide courses on a vast scale and open higher education to thousands more students than was previously possible.
The college's course, Introduction to Art: Concepts and Techniques, is one of five Penn State offerings that also include Maps and the Geospatial Revolution; Creativity, Innovation and Change; Energy, the Environment and Our Future; and Epidemics: The Dynamics of Infectious Diseases. The Penn State Coursera offerings are open for immediate enrollment at http://coursera.org/psu.
Penn State joins other well-known institutions around the globe already offering courses through Coursera partnerships. Coursera, a for-profit industry leader in large-scale online education, works with top universities to offer free courses for anyone, with the hope that the world’s best institutions will educate not only thousands of students, but millions.
Keith Bailey, assistant dean for online learning in the College of Arts and Architecture, says the college’s involvement has important implications for both teaching and research. “Above and beyond the hope of expanding our outreach goal of broadening the appreciation of art, this undertaking can provide us with a unique opportunity to collect unusually large amounts of data from a global and diverse audience. This data will not only help inform arts education practice, but it can help drive emerging arts education-based research agendas for our faculty and students.”
Since Coursera launched in April 2012, the company has registered a total of almost 2.8 million users, with approximately 1.45 million students enrolling in courses each month. Coursera also recently began offering students opportunities to receive credit and recognition for their work through organizations such as the American Council on Education (ACE), which offer the potential for students to receive transfer credit to college degree programs for select courses.
Penn State plans to use the innovative MOOC platform to advance key University priorities, including showcasing faculty expertise, testing innovative learning strategies, engaging with communities around the world and attracting students to continue their education at Penn State, either in-person or online. In addition, MOOCs also offer high school students an opportunity to pre-shop for college majors and provide existing students with a way to supplement their learning.
The University’s MOOC exploration involves Information Technology Services (ITS) and Penn State Outreach, which launched the World Campus in 1998. According to Craig Weidemann, vice president for outreach, participation in the expanding MOOC movement builds upon Penn State’s longstanding history of innovation and providing access to students. “The criteria for courses we offer in this global effort are that they need to be robust, in high demand and relevant to the needs of learners,” he said. “Each course was sponsored by an academic college and championed by a faculty member who was adept with technology—ensuring Penn State’s platform presence employs cutting-edge tools and highly innovative teaching methods.”
Anna Divinsky, Introduction to Art course author, says the course’s potential is exciting. “This is an amazing opportunity that will encourage learners without any previous art experience to express themselves creatively through writing and art making,” she notes. “I hope to see this grow into an ongoing creative dialogue about art that reflects the diverse views and approaches to art making from all over the world. Partaking in this collaborative art experience will provide a unique insight into the creative minds of these individuals, each bringing something personal and unique to the table.”
With the addition of Penn State’s five courses, Coursera will now host more than 220 courses from universities at the top of their respective fields, representing some of the leading schools of business, medicine, engineering and the arts.
For Penn State’s official news release on the Coursera partnership, click here.