University of Wisconsin-Madison is launching its first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Thursday.
A MOOC is an online class that anyone with a computer can take for free, although not for credit.
UW officials said about 80,000 people have signed up for the four pilot courses its offering in partnership with the education company Coursera .
UW-Madison Provost Paul DeLuca said MOOCS are a good opportunity for the university to learn a new way of instruction.
“It's a bit of an experiment, quite frankly,” said DeLuca. “It's a totally different pedagogy.”
DeLuca said MOOCS can be a good complement to traditional education, but he said they're not a replacement. MOOCs are a controversial topic in higher education across the nation. Some instructors worry the massive online courses could end up replacing faculty, and some colleges fear they could lose students to premier schools offering courses online.
UW-Madison School of Education's Constance Steinkuehler is an associate professor of digital media, and is also co-instructor of the six-week course “Video Games and Learning” that starts on Thursday. She said she thinks MOOCS are the Wisconsin way.
“The idea of putting this together online in some fashion where someone wanted to go through it voluntarily on their own schedule -- that just seems to me like an obvious win, and something that we ought to be doing as part of the Wisconsin Idea," she said.
DeLuca said UW-Madison might offer more MOOCs in the future, after it evaluates the four pilot courses.