Spooky Mooc will offer degree credits

From Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Edward Cullen in the Twilight series, vampire characters have long had the ability to capture the public’s imagination.

May 4, 2013

Now, those with more than just a passing interest in literature’s blood-suckers have the opportunity to take a free massive open online course in Vampire Fictions from Edge Hill University.

Those successfully completing the Mooc will be eligible for credit from the university, which will count towards the value of a degree if they decide to enroll at the institution.

It is thought to be the first UK university to offer such credit for Mooc students, although universities in other countries, such as Germany’s Leuphana University of Lüneburg, have done so previously.

Course leader Ben Brabon, senior lecturer in English literature and SOLSTICE Learning and Teaching Fellow at Edge Hill, said the course would include pre-recorded lectures and a live webinar.

While students can take the course without submitting work, those who completed a blog and produced a podcast would be eligible for assessment and, potentially, university credit, he said.

“This is fundamentally about sharing one of our most popular modules with as wide an audience as possible. We want people to engage with us, but they will have to have a passion for this subject – it isn’t an easy ride.”

Questions still remain about the effectiveness of the assessment mechanisms associated with Moocs, with many relying on peer review or on tests that can be marked by computers.

This is partly because of the sheer numbers involved. When the University of Edinburgh offered six courses on the Coursera Mooc platform last year, more than 300,000 people had registered by the time they started in January.

However, with credit at stake, Dr Brabon has decided that he and around 10 to 12 faculty staff will assess all the submitted projects themselves, acknowledging that if the course is hugely successful, it could become a difficult task.

“We are prepared, and we want to offer our Mooc students the same service as our registered students, which would mean them having their work assessed and returned within four weeks,” he said.

“However, if 20,000 students want to go for credit then we would have to revisit how we go about it. Perhaps we would have to think about limiting the massiveness of the course.”

The Edge Hill Mooc will be delivered via the Blackboard CourseSites platform, and will run over 12 weeks from 3 September 2013.  

chris.parr@tsleducation.com

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