MOOCs learning, Emory-style

The Bible offers modern societies a model for creating communities around shared texts, songs, and laws, says Hebrew Bible scholar Jacob Wright. Students who enroll in Wright's new massive open online course (MOOC) on Coursera will explore that and more.

The course is one of six that Emory is rolling out on Coursera this spring and summer. Others consider topics from addiction to childbirth, accounting to violence. Selected by Emory's Faculty Advisory Committee on Online Education, the courses highlight the distinctive resources of the university (such as the Michael C. Carlos Museum, where a course on the art of ancient Nubia will be filmed).

All feature the research expertise of the Emory faculty. For example:

  • Michael Kuhar, who is teaching The Addicted Brain, is one of the world's most highly cited scientists on the structure and function of the brain and drug addiction.
  • Deb Houry and Pamela Scully are teaming up to offer a multidisciplinary course on violence, informed by their scholarship in emergency medicine, injury control, and comparative women's and gender history.
  • The course on violence is being adapted from a class originally taught at Emory, as was the Coursera course on AIDS offered by public health's Kimberley Hagen in 2013.

Courses like these highlight the breadth and interdisciplinary thinking that is a hallmark of an Emory education, says Lynn Zimmerman, senior vice provost for undergraduate and continuing education.

The Faculty Advisory Committee on Online Education is helping Emory evaluate and keep up with this rapidly evolving area. Its work in the spring semester will shift to collecting best practices and identifying resources on campus that are ripe for MOOC development. "We are learning new lessons from each new course, and we’re evaluating everything we do," Zimmerman says.