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Penn State’s First MOOC Begins Today

Penn State will join a group of 61 prestigious universities in 13 countries today with the commencement of its first Massive Open Online Course — that’s MOOC for short.

The university announced its interest into MOOCs earlier this year and will offer five free online course taught by 14 professors through a company called Coursera during the first year. Basically, anyone in the world can sign up to take a MOOC through Penn State free of charge and not for credit. It augments the most fundamental virtue of self-motivated learning and is just one way Penn State gives back to the public at large.

As of last week, more than 125,000 people were registered to take at least one of Penn State’s five MOOCs, according to Penn State Outreach.

“Penn State will be part of a movement that can provide broader access to higher education,” said President Rodney Erickson in the initial release. “This partnership offers us an opportunity to not only open educational doors to people who may not otherwise have an opportunity, but to also showcase the innovative work of our faculty and their courses.”

The first course, called Introduction to Art: Concepts & Techniques, begins today, as Penn State takes another plunge into the wide world of online learning.

“The main emphasis of the course is to teach you hands-on studio arts techniques as you conduct personal research and explore your own creativity,” according to the course description. “While utilizing historical and contemporary art concepts, the course guides you through different time periods.”

The course will be taught by Anna Divinsky, a faculty member in the School of Visual Arts. Divinsky is also an adjunct faculty member in the University of Pittsburgh’s Studio Arts Department.

“Anyone who is interested in learning introductory art concepts, techniques, and approaches would benefit in taking [the course],” Divinsky said in a recent interview. “Since the content is multifaceted, it allows the learners to approach art in different ways, learning to look at art, write about art and create art in a personal and informed manner.”

If art isn’t your thing, Penn State will also offer MOOCs in maps, energy, creativity, and infectious diseases. For the complete list of MOOCs and how to sign up, check out Penn State’s Coursera page.

“We have worked to bring some of the most innovative and exciting learning experiences to life on the Coursera platform,” said Cole Camplese, the senior director of ITS Teaching and Learning with Technology, who took part in Penn State’s decision to join the MOOC movement. “The courses we are offering will enable us to expand our leadership in online delivery by partnering with award-winning faculty to potentially enrich the lives of tens of thousands of learners. The faculty involved in this effort are excited to be part of a future-facing teaching opportunity with potentially transformative effects.”

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About the Author

Kevin Horne

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014 and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus, which is a fake title he made up. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is also the president of the graduate student government. Email: [email protected]

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